BILLINGS, Mont. – Gage Gay wasn’t ready to say on Sunday that this was the happiest he had felt since winning the Built Ford Tough Series event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last year, but he did admit that he is finally having fun on the Built Ford Tough Series again.
Gay went 3-for-4 and earned 300 points toward the world standings at the Stanley Performance in Action Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, to jump back into the Top 30 of the world standings (26th) for the first time since being cut from the BFTS following the Kansas City, Missouri, event.
“This is the most fun I have had in a while,” Gay said. “I am actually enjoying it again.”
The 20-year-old admittedly was shocked and surprised when his 86.5-point ride on Fire Rock in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round was held up via instant replay.
“It kind of helped me out that call in the short round,” he said. “But, hey, if it is inconclusive and it goes my way I guess I am not complaining.”
Gay, who began the weekend as the 36th bull rider in the world standings, thought for sure they were going to call him for a slap in the final seconds, but there ended up not being enough conclusive evidence to deem it a slap and Gay was awarded a score that eventually helped him finish the event third in the event average to earn 180 points toward the world standings.
His ride on Fire Rock placed him fourth in the championship round for an additional 40 points.
“My hand was starting to go to sleep in the bucking chute because I was messing with that bull for so long,” Gay said. “They wouldn’t let me re-pull, so that kind of pissed me off and it seemed to make me take the fight to him more.”
Gay earned 100 points for winning Round 2 on Saturday night when he rode Smoke Wagon for 86.25 points, which was the beginning of three consecutive rides by Gay to conclude the event.
He rode Strung Out for 85.25 points in Round 3 to head into the championship round with the fifth pick in the draft.
Billings is the first event Gay has posted three qualified rides since winning his first career event in Tulsa last August. In Tulsa, Gay also needed a replay to hold up his event-winning ride on Pound The Alarm (87.75 points), which happens to be the last time he posted a qualified ride in the championship round.
Gay was the biggest mover among a group of alternates, including Robson Palermo and Aaron Roy, to make a move up the world standings in Billings.
Here is a by-the-numbers look at some highlights from Billings:
155: Aaron Roy gets important points to stay in contention for BFTS spot
Aaron Roy has fought much bigger battles in the last year than trying to remain on the Built Ford Tough Series, but the 27-year-old bull rider who returned this year following a near-career ending injury at the 2013 Calgary Stampede was on the verge of running out of injury exemptions following Billings.
However, Roy continued to show his perseverance and the Asquith, Saskatchewan, bull rider went 3-for-4 and earned 155 points toward the world standings to leave Billings as the No. 36 bull rider in the world after beginning the three-day event as the 53rd bull rider in the world standings.
Based on a slew of injuries inside the Top 30, it is likely Roy will be riding in Des Moines, Iowa.
“When I came back it was just to prove I can ride on the Built Ford Tough,” Roy said. “I wanted to get bulls rode here and after this weekend I feel like I am riding bulls again like I used to. To get three down here at a three-day event is huge. It boosts my confidence way up there and it proves I am able to be back here.”
Roy finished fifth overall in Billings and secured his fourth-place finish in the event average with a 87-point ride on Chocolate Thunder in the championship round.
The ride earned him 50 points toward the standings for finishing third in the round.
“That is a confidence builder,” Roy said. “I was pretty happy that one was there. Those guys were talking about that bull for me. It was either that bull or the one Cooper Davis took (Redbone).
Throughout the weekend Roy was playing with his son, Axel, outside of the locker room. It was Axel’s first BFTS event.
“You look up into the crowd and you know he is watching,” Roy said. “To bring him here and have him at an event with me means everything.”
Roy rode Bad Grandma for 85 points in the first round and Dollar Hunt for 85.5 points in the third to finish fourth in the event average (257.5 points) to earn 105 points.
“That bull in the long round (Dollar Hunt) really tested me and was moving away from me,” Roy said. “He made me work at it a little bit and get back to the way I used to ride staying out over them.”
417.5: Joao Ricardo Vieira increases lead in world standings; falls to Stone Sober
Joao Ricardo Vieira may have been able to increase his lead atop the world standings even more in Billings if he had not selected Stone Sober in the championship round with the eighth pick.
However, Vieira wanted a chance to try and win the championship round and finish high in the event average.
The 30-year-old understood he only had only two scores on the board and that he needed a high score to potentially have a shot at winning the event average.
“He is a crazy bull,” Vieira said before the draft. “But, you can be 92 or 93 (points) on him.”
The matchup was the marque one of the championship round with Stone Sober getting the best of the world leader in 4.07 seconds. Stone Sober was marked 44.5 points.
However, Vieira still earned a total of 122.5 points (82.5 from his second-place finish in the 15/15 Bucking Battle) toward the world standings and increased his lead on No. 2 Matt Triplett (0-for-4) to 417.5 points.
89.25: Beaver Creek Shane
Shane Proctor found a pot of points aboard Beaver Creek Beau for the second time in three weeks during the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Billings.
Three weeks after churning out an 89.75-point effort on Beaver Creek Beau in Seattle, Proctor took care of business aboard Chad Berger’s bull for 88.75 points this past Saturday.
Proctor is averaging 89.25 points per ride on Beaver Creek Beau and is the holder of two of the three qualified rides Beaver Creek Beau has surrendered in 26 career outs.
“Man, he just fits me for some reason,” Proctor said. “He is big and scary and kind of like bulls I grew up riding. That is how I learned riding bulls, getting on the big ones over at the Katich Ranch like Major Payne.”
Proctor earned 82.5 points for splitting second and third place with Joao Ricardo Vieira (88.75 points on I’m A Gangster Too). He also earned an additional 45 points in Billings – 40 for riding Tahonta’s Magic for 86.25 points for fourth place in Round 1 and five for tying with Douglas Duncan for 15th in the event average.
Proctor has earned 132.5 points toward the world standings with the help of Beaver Creek Beau.
“I knew pretty much what he was going to do,” Proctor said. “He was going to be out there a couple of rounds around the right and moving ahead the whole time. You really have to stay down and stay forward on him. He gets stronger and stronger as he goes. That is the hardest part, just staying down.”
5: Percolator continues to buck consistently
Percolator was marked 45 points or more in his fifth consecutive out.
Jeff Robinson’s bovine athlete bucked off Stetson Lawrence in 4.68 seconds and was marked 45.25 points.
Percolator is averaging 44.42 points per out this season.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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