KAWASAKI STRONG BATTLE AT THE BAY: The Built Ford Tough Series returns to action this weekend in Oakland, California, for the Kawasaki Strong Battle at the Bay. Don’t forget to set your lineups, and if you haven’t already, sign up now for your chance to win.
The Laughlin Dream Team included Mike Lee (Tier A), Chase Outlaw (Tier B),Matt Triplett (Tier B), Tanner Byrne (Tier C) and Neil Holmes (Tier C), as well as Stone Sober, Roy and Margy Time.
RIDER RUNDOWN: For the second time in four weeks, Mike Lee used a 3-for-3 showing to win a BFTS event. His victory last week in Laughlin, Nevada, has him up to third in the world standings and puts him right in the mix for his second world title. However, Lee has struggled all season long with putting together back-to-back weekends with multiple rides. He has yet to ride two or more bulls in consecutive events since doing so in the first five BFTS events of 2014. He will try to end that trend this weekend by first facing California Kid in Round 1. It is California Kid’s first BFTS out since the 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Fabiano Vieira continues to demonstrate the definition of consistency on the BFTS and leads the series with his 57.81 riding percentage. While he did not make the championship round last week following his 1-for-2 performance, Vieira did ride Fire & Smoke for 88.25 points in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. He takes on a relatively unknown bull in War Party on Friday. Silvano Alves and Joao Ricardo Vieira each come into Oakland following 2-for-3 showings in Laughlin. Guilherme Marchi is marred in a 1-for-9 slump.
Cody Nance highlights Tier B riders after the 2009 PBR Rookie of the Year earned high praise from nine-time World Champion Ty Murray. Nance, who leads the BFTS with three wins this year, put forth a gutsy effort on Roy — a ride that Murray joked he would score 100 — despite being bucked off in 6.93 seconds. Nance has posted one ride in four of the past five events. He also has bucked off Bushwacker twice in that same span and has made it clear he would like to get another chance at the champ, before the two-time World Champion calls it a career. Chase Outlaw continues his strong late-season performance with a first-round showdown against Dollar Hunt, a bull that Joao Ricardo Vieira rode for 85.25 points in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Outlaw is coming off a 15/15 Bucking Battle win in Laughlin and boasts a 55-percent riding percentage over the past three events. Eduardo Aparecido still leads Tier B with a 46.88 percent riding average.
After one week back, Tanner Byrne looks to have put his right hand injury behind him. He finished second last week at the Desert Showdown. Byrne, a rider to watch in Tier C, rode all three of his bulls and it was his first three-ride event since March (Fresno, California). Byrne will try to make up ground in the Rookie-of-the-Year race when he attempts to ride Comfortably Numb, who is making his BFTS debut, in Round 1. World Champions Kody Lostroh (2009) and Renato Nunes (2010) will look to bounce back this weekend after bucking off in the championship round in Laughlin. Lostroh has ridden a bull in four straight events and faces Super Cool Cat, who Valdiron de Oliveira rode for 86 points at last year’s World Finals. Nunes has yet to post rides in consecutive weeks during the second half. He will go to battle against Say La V. Guytin Tsosie last rode Say La V in April at the Nampa, Idaho, Built Ford Tough Series event.
BULL BITS: All eyes will be on Bushwacker on Saturday night to see if the two-time World Champion can rebound from his career-low, 43-point effort against Guilherme Marchi. Fire & Smoke (44.62 BFTS average) also is attempting to bounce back from his 43.75-point showing against Fabiano Vieira. I’m A Gangster Too enters the weekend with an average bull score of 44.76 points. He has been marked 45 points or higher in his last three outs.
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