PUEBLO, Colo. – The PBR’s first three PBR Majors are officially in the books following last weekend’s Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout in Nashville, Tennessee.
With tickets for the 2016 Iron Cowboy going on sale today, PBR.com takes a look back at five memorable moments from the 2015 PBR Majors.
1. Joao Ricardo Vieira flips the switch on his season with Iron Cowboy victory
No one was paying much attention to Joao Ricardo Vieira through the first eight Built Ford Tough Series events this season, but once the then-26thranked bull rider rode Bruiser for 90.5 points everyone remembered who he was.
Vieira would go on to ride Crack The Whip for 88.5 points to seal the victory and 900 points toward the world standings at the first PBR Major. The win moved him to fifth in the world and four weeks later he was the number one bull rider in the world.
“This proves I am the Iron Cowboy and deserved this title more than last year because I rode all my bulls,” Vieira said in February. “I got on my bulls last year to win and stay on them and I couldn’t get it done. I feel more like the true champion because I got on all the bulls this weekend and rode.”
2. Vieira wins Last Cowboy Standing to begin summer break with large lead
Vieira’s lead atop the world standings has certainly diminished in August with a dominant performance by J.B. Mauney, but there is no way Vieira would still be the No. 1 bull rider in the world if not for sweeping the first two Majors of the season.
Vieira won Last Cowboy Standing by riding 3-of-5 bulls, and his 90.5-point ride aboard Percolator gave him enough round points to hold off Stetson Lawrence for the victory.
The win gave him 877.5 points and he entered July with a 1,002.5-point lead on No. 2 Matt Triplett.
“No, I can’t relax because there are a lot of people behind me that can ride great,” Vieira said in May. “I just need to ride good bulls and make good points to be here.”
Vieira was absolutely right.
He has gone 2-for-7 on the BFTS since Last Cowboy Standing and his lead has shrunk to 167.5 points on new No. 2 J.B. Mauney. No. 3 Kaique Pacheco is 707.5 points behind and Triplett, now fourth in the world standings, sits 892.5 points behind.
3. Little Red Jacket bucks off J.B. Mauney in 2.94 seconds
If Little Red Jacket continues building on his momentum this season, he may end up turning into a strong candidate for the 2015 World Champion Bull title by the time the Built Ford Tough World Finals come around on Oct. 21.
The beginning of Little Red Jacket’s turnaround this year all started with his 2.94-second buckoff of Mauney at Last Cowboy Standing.
“What impressed me was J.B.,” stock contractor Gene Owen said in May. “Not to be negative, but some of them guys don’t give them a chance to buck and he gave him a chance and he gave him a good out. (Little Red Jacket) got out clean and he bucked. He has consistently gotten better for us. When you hand it to J.B. like that, that is an outstanding out. I am just proud that he has come along like he has.”
Little Red Jacket was marked a career-high 46.5 points and later went on to post two more 45-point bull scores.
He began August with a 45.25-point showing by bucking off J.W. Harris in Biloxi, Mississippi, and followed that up with a 45.5-point outing against Cody Nance in Nashville.
“With what he did at the Last Cowboy Standing in Vegas and tonight, he is starting to figure out what he wants to do and he sure is bucking hard,” Harris said in Biloxi.
4. Roy leaves lasting impression on the riders
Stock contractor Julio Moreno has no plans of bucking Roy until the final remaining Built Ford Tough Series regular-season event in Tucson, Arizona, and the way his bull has bucked in his past two outs you kind of can understand the decision by the owner of three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker.
Roy put his wicked spin and agility on full display at Last Cowboy Standing when he was marked a career-high 46.25 points for bucking off Cody Nance.
“One of the rankest bulls I’ve ever been on and my favorite bull to get on right now going,” Nance said.
Moreno added, “I think he is a lot stronger than we really think he is. Looking at him, it is really something to see.”
Roy bucked off Reese Cates in 3.32 seconds in Salinas, California, during the July BlueDEF Velocity Tour event.
5. Kaique Pacheco becomes the first rookie to win a PBR Major
It wasn’t a pretty win by any means, but Kaique Pacheco made history at the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout by winning the last PBR Major at just 20 years old.
The standout rookie clinched the victory with a 76.5-point ride on Percolator, who Jeff Robinson admitted had sub-par out.
He only went 2-for-5, but he was able to eliminate three Top 10 bull riders in the world standings Matt Triplett (four), Stetson Lawrence (ninth) and Fabiano Vieira (fifth). He also eliminated Aaron Roy and Tanner Byrne.
Regardless of only recording two qualified rides, Pacheco’s ability to clinch the victory with one was something that left a lasting impression on two-time World Champion Justin McBride and nine-time World Champion Ty Murray.
“Now that to me, coming in and finishing an event when you don’t have to ride and you still want to, now you are talking World Championship-caliber stuff,” McBride said.
Murray added, ““It all shows up in his movement,” Murray said. “It is all very crisp and it is all very clean. It is very quick. He is very athletic with great form. He knows exactly where he needs to move to. He doesn’t override or underride bulls.
“I think he is legit.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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