Behind the Chutes: Laughlin, Day 1

Mike Lee puts up 86.5 points on Flint to take Round 1 in Laughlin, Nev. Photo by Andy Watson /


LAUGHLIN, Nev. – Here are three things we learned after the first night of competition at the Desert Showdown presented by Cooper Tires.

1. Lee loving riding under the stars

Mike Lee won the last Built Ford Tough Series outdoor event three weeks ago in Thackerville, Oklahoma, and the 2004 World Champion is off to a good start in the latest event under the nighttime sky. The 31-year-old, who began the night fifth in the world standings, won Round 1 with 86.5 points on Flint.

“He was a little nicer than normal,” Lee said. “He has lost quite a bit of weight, but he is still a good bull.”

Lee said he didn’t put too much thought into the world title race entering this weekend, following last week’s performance in Springfield, Missouri, where he failed to record a single qualified ride.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I think when you lose, you kind of win,” Lee said. “Sometimes when I fail, it just makes things simpler.”

What also potentially helped Lee on Friday night was a return to competing outside. Outdoor events bring him back to his bull-riding roots, says Lee, and for whatever reason, it helps him feel more relaxed.

“At smaller events, I feel like I am in someone’s backyard getting on bulls,” he added. “It’s funny. I like outdoor events. I grew up in outdoor arenas riding steers and pee-wee bulls. It reminds me of the old days.”

His luck ran out in the 15/15 Bucking Battle when he was displaced by I’m a Gangster Too in 4.17 seconds.

2. Vieira takes over world lead on night where top riders turn down re-rides

Fabiano Vieira is continuing to prove that his unstable right shoulder is not going to stop him from winning his first career world title.

The 32-year-old took over the top spot in the world standings for the first time since May by riding Fire & Smoke for 88.25 points in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. It is the second time in his career that he has made the 8-second mark aboard the bovine athlete.

He unofficially leads No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira by 166.12 points in the world standings, Guilherme Marchi by 349.56 points, Silvano Alves by 626.76 and Lee by 835.06.

The world title race was on the minds of Vieira, Joao Ricardo Vieira and Alves during Round 1 earlier in the night. All three riders turned down re-ride opportunities and admitted that the goal was to gain bonus points for placing in the round.

However, Alves, who kept 72.75 points aboard Rockerfeller Center, is the only rider currently in the Top 10 in the event average following 12 qualified rides at the Laughlin Events Center.

Fabiano Vieira rode Royal Hawaiian for 51.25 points prior to his highlight-reel ride and Joao Ricardo Vieira rode Apollo Stripes for 64-points,

It wasn’t pretty, but all three riders are banking on every single point helping them out during the final stretch run to World Finals. They and Marchi, the only rider within the Top 5 of the world standings not to earn a qualified ride, were separated by less than 500 points at the start of the night.

However, Alves and both Vieiras will likely need to get another ride under their belts on Saturday night to make into the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. Marchi will need to get a high score and potentially a little help to qualify.

Marchi also failed in his attempt to ride Bushwacker in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. The 2008 World Champion was bucked off in 4.83 seconds by the two-time World Champion Bull – the $25,000 Bad Boy Mowers Bounty Bull.

“I feel like I tried,” Marchi said. “That bull is very hard. He moved forward and stayed on his feet, but when he got off his jump, it is so hard. He put all the pressure on my feet.”

3. Outlaw firing on all cylinders

Chase Outlaw promised after winning the Jack Daniel’s Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee, that he wouldn’t go another two years without winning again. Two weeks later, Outlaw can celebrate another victory of sorts, after he took home the 15/15 Bucking Battle title with 89.5 points onSouth Paw.

“I am hot as a pistol,” Outlaw said. “Man, I just stayed over that front and stayed out over on him.”

Outlaw continues to be one of the hottest riders on the BFTS and the Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider is also coming off a second-place showing last week in Springfield, Missouri.

He has now ridden five of his last nine bulls for an average score of 88.15 points.

Outlaw says he is still riding with same mentality and style that he had during his rookie year two years ago. Things are just falling into place.

“I didn’t change anything up,” he said. “I am still doing the same thing I have been doing since my rookie year. It didn’t come together for that one year, but I still don’t want to change anything because that is what got me here. I am going to keep doing what I am doing.”


2009 World Champion Kody Lostroh returned to competition this weekend and rode Showing Out for 85.75 points after missing a week because of an aggravation of his chronic riding hand injury.

He is currently tied for third in the event average with Matt Triplett, who rodeMental Revenge in Round 1.

After missing the third round in Springfield, Marco Eguchi (pre-existing pelvic sprain) rebounded in Laughlin with 83.25 points aboard Devil in Disguise to finish the first round in seventh-place.

J.W. Harris sits in eighth following his 83-point performance on Imagine That. Harris missed the third round in Springfield because of a costochondral sprain he sustained in Round 1.

Tanner Byrne (right wrist sprain) returned for his first event in a month and picked up 75.5 points on Gerald Dean.

J.B. Mauney (right hip pointer/low back strain) also returned to action after missing the Invitational last weekend, but he failed to find any success against Little Phil in Round 1 or Beaver Creek Beau in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Gage Gay passed his concussion test on Friday evening, but could not get past Long Haired Outlaw or Oklahoma Bell.

Nathan Schaper returned to competition after not competing in the championship round last week because of a pelvic sprain (right SI and symphysis).

Markus Mariluch (torn right biceps tendon), Kasey Hayes (fractured jaw),Sean Willingham (hip dislocation), Ty Pozzobon (knee sprain), Robson Palermo (right shoulder surgery), Guytin Tsosie (broken right tibia and fibula mid-shaft) and Shane Proctor (left shoulder surgery) all were out due to their respective injuries.

Ryan Dirteater (unstable left knee), Renato Nunes (unstable right shoulder), Zane Lambert (sprained left knee), Billy Robinson (sports hernia), Fabiano Vieira (unstable right shoulder) and Marchi (sprained right knee) all competed injured.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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