SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The first cut of the 2015 Built Ford Tough Series season is right around the corner and following this weekend’s Sacramento Invitational at Sleep Train Arena, some riders will be subject to losing their automatic spot in the draw at Built Ford Tough Series events and will have to head to the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division to fight their way back.
Under the new points system, riders that finished 31-35th in the final 2014 world standings are subject to being cut from the BFTS following five BFTS events if any riders below them in the standings surpass them in 2015. Riders that placed 1-30 last year in the final world standings are guaranteed eight BFTS events.
Therefore, heading into this week, Nathan Schaper (14th) and Jordan Hupp (41st) are the two riders potentially facing the cut. Douglas Duncan (two), Josh Faircloth (one) and Robson Palermo (one) still have injury exemptions remaining before possibly being relegated to the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.
Schaper appears to be in good shape to remain on the BFTS seeing as a variety of riders from last year’s Top 30 have been out of competition (Emilio Resende, Claudio Crisostomo, Markus Mariluch, Kody Lostroh and Ty Pozzobon), which has opened up additional alternate positions for the BFTS event in Anaheim, California, on Feb. 6-8.
The 24-year-old helped his case tremendously last week with his second-place finish in Oklahoma City that netted him 180 points toward the world standings.
“I don’t mind the pressure,” Schaper said in Oklahoma City. “I don’t mind it at all. It makes you bear down and keep your hand shut, that’s for sure.”
Schaper takes on Velvet Revolver, who is making his BFTS debut, in Round 1 on Friday night and Meat Hook in Round 2 on Saturday. Schaper has faced neither bull, and Meat Hook has bucked off four of his past five BFTS opponents.
Hupp currently has 80 points in the world standings and will need to earn additional points, roughly around another 80-100 points, to have a chance to keep his spot on the BFTS based on current projections for Anaheim provided by the PBR competition committee.
Hupp is scheduled to meet Hotwired in Round 1 and Hot Spot in Round 2. He has faced neither BFTS- debuting bulls.
Bryan Titman has a great opportunity in Sacramento to try and earn enough points to earn himself a chance to compete in Anaheim as well. Titman, who has never competed on the BFTS before, is in the draw following his BlueDEF Velocity Tour win in Laredo, Texas, earlier this month. Titman went 3-for-3 with ride scores of 84, 86, and 88 points for his first career BlueDEF Velocity win.
He currently sits 20th in the world standings with 155 points. The 155 points places him just on the bubble as a potential alternate for Anaheim with Robson Aragao (147.5) and Tyler Harr (145).
Harr was the final alternate for this weekend and he will also be in search of points to possibly jump past Titman in hopes of gaining a spot in the draw for Anaheim.
Titman takes on Cash Ya Out in Round 1 and Wilbur in Round 2. Harr faces Mad Max in Round 1 and Jeremiah in Round 2. Neither rider has faced either of their two bulls.
Other alternates in the Sacramento draw include Billy Robinson, Jason Malone, Ben Jones and Harve Stewart.
Out of the four, Jones is in the best shape to remain on tour after starting the season 7-for-12. He has accumulated a total of 467.5 points at all levels and heads to Sacramento eighth in the world standings.
Stewart (70 points) and Robinson (60 points) are in a similar situation as Hupp and will need to position themselves better in the world standings to earn a full-time spot on tour this season.
Injured riders not competing this week in Sacramento are: Palermo (concussion), Faircloth (broken ankle), Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction), Claudio Crisostomo (left clavicle fracture), Ty Pozzobon (concussion) and Markus Mariluch (bicep surgery).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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