LOUISVILLE, Ky. – J.B. Mauney and Joao Ricardo Vieira may not have been able to walk out of the KFC Yum! Center with the BlueDEF Finals event victory, but the top two riders in the world standings were able to leave with solid weekends and, most of all, escape significant injury.
Vieira went 3-for-3 and finished in third place in the event, while Mauney shrugged off a Round 1 buckoff against Back in Black with two qualified rides on Saturday night to finish in sixth.
“I messed up last night and made a mistake,” Mauney said. “I was thinking too much, and I knew it as soon as I hit the ground. I had to come back tonight and fix it.”
Mauney capped off his regular-season with an 87-point ride on American Sniper in the championship round after previously covering Side Winder for 86 points in Round 2.
The performance helped Mauney gain 72.5 points toward the world standings. The 28-yearold earned 18 points for tying for fourth place in Round 2 and 30 points in the championship round for a third-place finish. He earned the final 24.5 points for his finish in the event average.
Mauney’s points also help limit the damage of Vieira’s 155-point weekend.
He will head to Finals with a 1,315-point lead on Vieira and a 1,322.5-point advantage over No. 3 Kaique Pacheco.
No. 4 Matt Triplett is the last rider mathematically alive in the world title race, but the 24-year-old is 2,172.5 points behind.
“You put it all out of your head,” Mauney responded about being so close at a second world title. “It don’t matter. The way I look at it is if you want to win the world title, you have to win the Finals first.”
Mauney certainly can win the world title without winning the Finals, but Vieira’s best chance at trying to come-from-behind to catch Mauney will be by winning the Finals and its 1,000 world points that come with it.
Vieira re-iterated Saturday night that Louisville was a great event for him to get some practice and build momentum for Las Vegas.
He rode Mental Revenge for 85.25 points in the championship round following his Round 2 winning ride on Chantilly Lace (87.25 points).
Vieira had ridden Little Waspy for 82.5 points on Friday night.
“Yeah, this is very good for Finals,” he said. “I had three good bulls – very good practice. I was relaxed. I feel good.
“This is momentum.”
In terms of the standings though, the 155 points he earned at the BlueDEF Finals are the most points he has earned at any PBR event since winning Last Cowboy Standing in May (877.5 points).
He earned 80 points for winning the second round and 75 for placing third in the event average.
Vieira had only earned 60 world points in the last eight Built Ford Tough Series events since the summer break.
On the flipside, Mauney earned 2,180 points since Aug. 1. Mauney has earned 60 or more world points in 10 of the 11 BFTS events he has competed in since returning from a torn left ACL in Des Moines, Iowa.
Last Cowboy Standing was also the last event Vieira posted three qualified rides.
Vieira added he has tried to not let Mauney or Pacheco’s recent strong performances affect him too much.
“Ah, I don’t see J.B. or Kaique,” he said. “I see one bull today and one bull tomorrow.”
All three three riders will be shifting their focus toward the Built Ford Tough World Finals on Oct. 21-25 in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Vieira and Mauney expect to primarily rest this week until their final pursuit of the coveted 2015 world title and its $1 million bonus begins on Oct. 21.
Rest will be extremely important for Vieira, who said after the event that his injured left riding wrist is still giving him issues.
“I will exercise and rest my body,” Vieira said. “Maybe (get on) practice bulls, but mainly I need to rest, exercise and ride horses.”
Mauney concluded, “The plan is to just relax and hang out at the house and not think about nothing and then head to Vegas.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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