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BEHIND THE CHUTES: Fresno, Day 2

FRESNO, Calif. – Here are three things we learned from this weekend’s Fresno Invitational at the Save Mart Center.

Roy notches first qualified ride on BFTS since May 2013

Aaron Roy came through on his personal goal to prove to himself that he indeed still has what it takes to ride on the Built Ford Tough Series.

Roy picked up his first qualified ride on the BFTS since fracturing his back at the 2013 Calgary Stampede when he rode Past Time for 86.25 points in the second round on Sunday afternoon.

“It is always something when you come back from injury to get that first one down and rode,” he said. “It feels really good to get that one down, and the way I rode, it felt like I haven’t left the sport and feel like I can still compete here.”

Roy’s last qualified ride came on May 12, 2013, when he made 8 seconds on Shameless for 88 points at Last Cowboy Standing.

The 27-year-old quickly became a fan favorite in Fresno and he received a strong ovation from the fans and his fellow riders when he made the 8-second whistle on Sunday.

“It is kind of funny how when you get injured real bad how many people get behind you and support you through it all,” Roy said. “I am just thankful for all of that.”

Not only did Roy ride Past Time, but he also earned 40 points for splitting third, fourth and fifth place with Brady Sims (Super Cool Cat) and Matt Triplett (Springsteen).

Roy was bucked off by Stanley FatMax in 2.93 seconds.

Roy is up to 44th in the world standings (10 points) and has four more injury exemptions remaining to try and crack the Top 30 of the world standings. He trails No. 30 Cooper Davis by 97.5 points.

Triplett, who bucked off Mr. Bull in 2.14 seconds during the final ride attempt of the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, finished the event 2-for-3 and seventh in the event average (171.75) to earn another 20 points toward the world standings.

The current world leader extended his lead to 790 points over No. 2 Silvano Alves (1-for-3, no points).

Bolton earns share of championship-round win with career-high ride

Rookie Bonner Bolton tied with Fabiano Vieira for his first career BFTS-round win and earned 80 points to the world standings by riding LL Cool J for 88.25 points in the championship round.

LL Cool J had bucked off his previous seven challengers on the BFTS.

Bolton was able to end LL Cool J’s buckoff streak by not being surprised by the bull’s initial explosive kick out of the gate.

“It felt good,” Bolton said. “I didn’t know the bull much. He blew up. I had seen him a couple of times and I knew he would blow up that first round and get real fast. It was just trying to keep up with him after that.”

Bolton began the night 0-for-3 in Built Ford Tough Championship rounds.

“It takes all the weight off my shoulders, finally getting one down in the short round,” Bolton said. “I hadn’t done that yet at this level. No matter what the bull, I could have been 50 points today and felt that way. Thankfully, it was a good bull and a good ride. I am just thankful to be here.”

Bolton earned a total of 205 event points to finish a career-best fourth overall. Prior to the championship round, Bolton kicked off his day by riding Imagine That for 87 points to finish second in Round 2. He finished fifth in the event average (175.25) to earn 65 points toward the world standings.

Therefore, Bolton jumps from 25th to 20th in the world standings.

Vieira jumps into the Top 10 of the world standings

Fabiano Vieira became the second rider in the past two weeks to jump into the Top 10 of the world standings thanks to his Fresno Invitational victory.

Vieira finished 3-for-3 in Fresno and earned a total of 515 points to move from 18th in the world standings all the way up to seventh. The 515 points is more than the 485 points he had accumulated through the first nine events of 2015.

“I am happy and fortunate to win my first event this year,” Vieira said. “I think I rode good this weekend and I feel good.”

Vieira earned the event victory by riding Breakdown for 88.25 points in the championship round to earn 80 points toward the standings after splitting the championship round win with Bolton.

The 32-year-old selected Breakdown with the fifth pick of the championship-round draft. He had ridden both of his bulls in Round 1 (84 points on Slingshot) and Round 2 (83 points on Dirt Devil) to have an opportunity to ride for the event victory.

Vieira earned 35 of his 515 points in the first round on Saturday night by splitting fourth and fifth place with J.B. Mauney.

The Perola, Brazil, bull rider is the second consecutive 2014 world title contender that has won in the past two weeks to put himself right in the mix of the 2015 World Championship race. Last week, Joao Ricardo Vieira earned 900 points to move to No. 5 in the world after winning Iron Cowboy.

It is Vieira’s first win since winning the Allentown, Pennsylvania, event last season.

Rounding out the Top 5 in Fresno was Valdiron de Oliveira (290), Cody Nance (220), Bolton (205) and Eduardo Aparecido (175).

Aparecido won Round 2 on Sunday with an 87.5-point ride on KISS Animalize.

It was the second consecutive out that Aparecido has ridden Jeff Robinson’s bull after he rode him for 90 points in New York to win the Monster Energy 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Injury updates

2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney left the Save Mart Center with his left ankle in a walking boot and on crutches after Bring It On stepped on his back when he tossed him in 6.8 seconds during the second round on Sunday.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Mauney may have possibly fractured his left tibula and tore ligaments in the ankle.

Mauney plans on getting X-rays taken when he returns to North Carolina on Monday and will then send them to Freeman for an official diagnosis.

According to Freeman, Mauney is questionable for next weekend’s BFTS event in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Dave Mason is also expected to undergo X-rays this week after it was discovered by PBR sports medicine that the rookie may have a ring finger metatarsal fracture on his left riding hand that he first sustained at a Touring Pro Division event earlier in the week.

Mason is also listed as questionable for Sioux Falls.

Ryan Dirteater opted out of the championship round after twisting his left knee during his 85.5-point ride on What Up in Round 2. There was no official injury update provided by PBR sports medicine.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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