Jenkins Leads Group of Riders in Search of Points

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours for L.J. Jenkins.

The 11-year Built Ford Tough Series veteran is on his way to Kansas City right on the fringe of being cut from the BFTS and he wants to do all he can to not let that happen this weekend.

Jenkins will arrive at the Sprint Center ranked 39th in the world standings and is just 15 points behind the No. 34/35/36 spots held by Lachlan Richardson, Cody Heffernan and Lachlan Richardson.

Therefore, Jenkins decided to go to the Touring Pro Division event in Saginaw, Michigan on Friday night – which was a trek in itself – before boarding a 6 a.m. flight on Saturday to Tulsa, Oklahoma. He then planned on making the 4.5-hour drive to Kansas City, Mo., for Round 1 of this weekend’s Caterpillar Classic.

“I need the points and we had Friday with nothing going on,” Jenkins said. “Right now, in the standings, everybody is right there. Five points will jump you so many spots. Have a good weekend and win an event and you are pretty much in the Top 10.”

Kansas City is the final of eight guaranteed events for riders that placed in The Top 30 of the world standings in 2014. Starting with Iron Cowboy next weekend, draws for BFTS events will be based upon this year’s current world standings.

Only 100 points – the amount of points awarded to a rider for winning a BFTS round – separates No. 24 Renato Nunes from Jenkins (39th).

Jenkins didn’t ride well enough to gain any points in Saginaw, but he believes it will be good to arrive in Kansas City with some momentum.

“Not good enough for points, but I felt good and ready for Saturday,” he said. I got a really good draw (Time Bomb) for the first round in Kansas City. I think it is looking up for this week.”

It was a long travel day on Friday as his 2-hour layover in Chicago evolved into 5-hours before he made it to Dow Event Center just in time for the start of the bull riding following rush hour traffic in Detroit.

Jenkins is joined by Gage Gay ( and Zane Lambert as the three riders competing at the BFTS event this weekend that are on the outside looking in for next week’s Iron Cowboy event. Skeeter Kingsolver (five points behind) is 37th in the world and is also looking to use Kansas City as an opportunity to jump into the Top 35.

Gay enters Kansas City following a season-best 2-for-4 showing in St. Louis after beginning the year with a disqualification and 12 consecutive buckoffs.

Lambert is 5-for-19 (26.32 percent) this season on the BFTS following his career-high 28th finish in the world in 2014.

“I’ve been watching this deadline coming, but I didn’t think I would be in this spot,” Lambert said. “It will just take time to get rolling. I just need to break that a little bit. I thought I did a couple times this year with a couple rides on the board, but I can’t get points.”

One example came at the BFTS event in Sacramento. Lambert rode Boogeyman for 86 points, but finished .50 points behind fifth-place finisher Renato Nunes. If he had ridden for 87 points, he would have tied Douglas Duncan for fourth in the round and picked up 40 points toward the world standings.

Last week, Lambert finished one point out of fifth-place in the third round in St. Louis with 84 points on The Kraken.

“It will come,” Lambert said. “I got a good bull (Wired Child) Saturday. I am drawing buckers, as long as I am getting on them I will get one of them ridden for points soon.”

Lambert added that he is trying to remain calm dealing with the unknown of where he will be riding next weekend.

“Coming on tour and off tour is hard to plan your year, so when you are jumping on the bubble it is hard,” Lambert said. “It is not the end of the world. I definitely need to get something done here, but I am entered in events and looks like I can stay busy.”

2015 has been a slow start for Jenkins as well, and the 27-year-old has gone 7-for-23 (30.43 percent) on the BFTS. Jenkins helped his cause earlier this season by earning 30 of his 120 world standings points at the Touring Pro level, where he is 4-for-4.

Jenkins isn’t too concerned though.

“Every year I always struggle,” Jenkins said. “I never jumped in at the front of the year and been fine. I have always been in that 20-something range, and it basically takes me a few weeks or a couple of months and I start riding good.”

Jenkins has been dealing with an unstable right shoulder injury that he first sustained at the Touring Pro Division event in Madison, Wisconsin, in January. He aggravated it again last week in St. Louis when he was trying to help Stormy Wing get positioned inside the bucking chute. Jenkins ended up icing the shoulder and said it was feeling better this week.

Kansas City could be the perfect place for the veteran to break through and earn those much-needed points. He won the 2012 BFTS event at the Sprint Center by riding all three of his bulls and he spent part of his childhood living in the Springfield, Missouri, region.

A top-six finish in the event average could also do ample damage and provide him with potentially enough points in the world standings.

“I need to stay on,” Jenkins said. “I am not letting the pressure get to me. At the end of the day, yeah, the money is not near as good at the (BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro) and I don’t want to be at the challengers, but if I got bumped off, I will be back in two weeks. I ride so much better at those events that I have no doubt in my mind it would take me two weeks and I will be back in the Top 30, especially with all of the points at the Velocity events.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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