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Behind the Chutes: Laughlin, Day 2

Joao Ricardo Vieira finishes seventh to leave Nevada atop the world standings. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

LAUGHLIN DAY 2 NEWS & NOTES

LAUGHLIN, Nev. – Here are three things we learned from this weekend’s Desert Storm presented by Cooper Tires:

1. Vieira remains on top, standings tighten

Joao Ricardo Vieira surrendered the No. 1 spot in the world standings to Fabiano Vieira on Friday following the 15/15 Bucking Battle, but he was able to reclaim the position by the end of the event on Saturday evening.

He finished seventh in the event average after going 2-for-3 at the Laughlin Events Center and leads Fabiano Vieira, who finished in 25th place, by exactly the same amount of points in the world standings that he did at the beginning of the event (89.38 points).

There are three Built Ford Tough Series regular-season events remaining and an additional 15/15 Bucking Battle in Huntington Beach, California, prior to the World Finals.

Joao Ricardo Vieira turned down a re-ride option in Round 1 on Friday night after earning 64 points on Apollo Stripes before riding Celling Bioscience’s Jukebox Hero for 85.5 points in the second round. He later bucked off Crack the Whip in 2.6 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

However, the big winner in the race for the 2014 world title this weekend was Mike Lee. The 2004 World Champion went 3-for-3 to win his second event in the past four weeks after Matt Triplett closed the night by bucking off Compact in 7.99 seconds.

Lee entered the competition fifth in the world standings and leaves in third place after capping off his Saturday night with 87.25 points on Meat Hook.

“He tested me a little bit, but he felt good,” Lee said. “Meat Hook is tricky. The sand helped me out a bit. It slowed him just a touch. I had to be patient and wait on him.”

Other than his 4.17-second buckoff on I’m a Gangster Too in Friday’s 15/15 Bucking Battle, Lee made easy work of the rest of the bulls he faced: Flint(86.5 points) and Doctor Wishes (80).

Lee exits Laughlin 357.19 points out of the top spot in the world. Guilherme Marchi is in fourth place – 438.94 points behind Joao Ricardo Vieira, while Silvano Alves is 562.44 points off the pace in fifth.

2. Holmes makes successful BFTS debut

Neil Holmes was one of the main subjects of conversation this weekend in Laughlin. Holmes made a stellar BFTS debut by going 2-for-3 to finish the Desert Showdown in fourth place.

The Houston native entered the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in a position to win the event after his 87.25-point ride on Reaganator had him in second position behind Triplett entering the final round.

“That was a good bull,” Holmes said. “I heard he was going to go around to the right, and normally they go the other way when they tell me that. I felt jammed up and I had to hustle all the way through it.”

Holmes selected Cowtown Slinger in the championship round draft, a bull he had picked out earlier in the evening, but came down in 2.76 seconds.

Regardless, it was an exciting debut for the 28-year-old, who took up the sport later than normal at 18 years old. He grew up going to about one rodeo a year during the Easter season and was always intrigued by the sport.

“I always rode horses and I was like, well, let me just try it,” he said. “I tried it and I stuck with it, and here we are.”

Ten years later, he is competing on bull riding’s toughest circuit.

He started the weekend off right with an 84-point ride on Sagebrush, who had sat down inside the chute and didn’t want to cooperate with Holmes initially. Yet, Holmes’ cowboy hat was floating across the air and he was smiling from ear to ear by the time he nodded his head and his hand was out of his rope.

“That was great,” Holmes said on Friday. “I feel like that is what I needed to get the ball rolling here. I couldn’t have asked for a better bull. ”

Holmes spent much of Friday night with his gold-colored headphones in his ears getting psyched up for his debut and later sitting on the chutes focusing in on the bull riding. He explained that he didn’t want to have any distractions and wanted to make sure he made the most of his opportunity.

Although once he made the whistle for the first time, he began to catch the attention of his peers.

Douglas Duncan, Stormy Wing, Chase Outlaw and Josh Faircloth all approached the newcomer following his ride to congratulate him on his first career ride.

Outlaw even had Holmes help him out in the bucking chute prior to his Round 2 ride attempt on Crazy Trip.

“Man, I am just super stoked to be here today and competing,” Holmes said. “It is definitely a blessing.”

3. Byrne succeeds in first event back

Tanner Byrne has been itching to get back to the Built Ford Tough Series after a month away from the sport due to a sprained right wrist on his riding arm.

The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, bull rider admitted prior to Round 2 on Saturday that his wrist was pretty sore from riding Gerald Dean on Friday night for 75.5 points.

Either way, Byrne showed no ill effects though when he made 8 seconds on Hitchhiker for 81.5 points. He then covered White Lie for 83.75 points in the championship round to finish second in the event average.

“It had been tough,” Byrne said. “I had wanted to go and my wife and everyone at home said, ‘It is stupid. There is no point in going. You are not strong and you won’t be able to hang on.’ They were definitely right. I waited until I was good and strong.”

Byrne moves up to 16th in the world standings.

“It feels awesome knowing my wrist is healthy again,” he said. “I went 3-for-3 and hopefully I will keep that going and stay hot right into Finals.”

Injury Updates

2009 World Champion Kody Lostroh also returned to competition this weekend and rode Showing Out for 85.75 points in Round 1 after missing a week because of an aggravation of his chronic riding hand injury. Lostroh finished 1-for-3 and placed 13th.

After missing the third round in Springfield, Marco Eguchi (pre-existing pelvic sprain) rebounded in Laughlin with 83.25 points aboard Devil in Disguise and 84.5 points on BooRay through the first two rounds.

J.W. Harris rode Imagine That for 83 points on Friday, but the four-time PRCA champion aggravated a previous back injury in the second round attempting to ride No Regrets. Harris missed the third round in Springfield because of a costochondral sprain he sustained in Round 1. He is probable for next weekend’s BFTS event in Oakland.

J.B. Mauney (right hip pointer/low back strain) also returned to action after missing the PFIWestern.com Invitational last weekend, but he failed to find any success against Ranga in Round 1 or Beaver Creek Beau in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. He was bucked off in 5.25 seconds courtesy of Cowboy Philon Saturday night.

Gage Gay passed his concussion test on Friday evening, but could not get past Long Haired Outlaw or Oklahoma Bell. The 20-year-old did ride Skid Roe Joe for 79.75 points in the second round.

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) Valdiron de Oliveira(pinched nerve/lower back pain) and Marchi (sprained right knee) all competed injured.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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