By: Paul Clark June 08, 2014@ 12:45:00 PM
ASHEVILLE, N.C. ― It didn’t seem like missing a couple of months because of injury this spring hurt Chase Outlaw much. Outlaw won in his return to action last weekend at the Ty Pozzobon Invitational and was in contention for the event win at the Jeff Robinson Invitational in Asheville, North Carolina, this weekend.
Ranked 29th in the world standings, Outlaw made riding look easy on Friday with his 84-point showing on Top Shot and an 88-point ride on Thunderstruck Saturday night at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center.
Outlaw appeared poised for another Touring Pro Division victory through two rounds, but Mike Lee capped off his late-push Saturday night by riding Rango for 88 points in the championship round to earn the event victory and $6,437.70. Lee posted an 87-point ride in the second round and finished the weekend 2-for-3 overall, not including his buckoff in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Champions Challenge on Friday night.
Lee also took home a $15,000 bonus courtesy of winning the J.W Hart PBR Challenge event at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Decatur, Texas, last weekend.
Outlaw (2-for-3) bucked off Delco in the championship round and finished second overall, earning $4,160.70 for his efforts.
While Lee has been one of the hottest riders in the TPD thus far this summer, Outlaw has quietly been putting forth his own summer surge. Just last week he won the Ty Pozzobon Invitational in Merrirtt, Canada, thanks to a 91-point ride on the back of Team Paige.
The win in Canada was certainly sweet after the two months he spent at home in Hamburg, Arkansas, recovering from injuries he sustained at the Table Mountain Casino Invitational in Fresno, California, on March 28-29.
Outlaw, 22, was riding Doing Time in the second round when he felt his leg pop.
“Instantly, I knew something was not right because it hurt like hell,” he said.
It happened right out of the gate. Turns out he sprained his pelvis and right SI joint, along with straining his right groin. Outlaw said he might have caught a knot, which stretched out his right leg.
Laying around for several weeks was tough, he admitted. Outlaw missed the excitement, he missed the other riders, he missed everything. Winning his first time back felt great.
“Can’t make no money sitting at the house,” Outlaw said. “I thought I’d be rusty, but there was no rust at all. I’m just glad to be back in action and on the road with my buds and tearing it up and getting that prize money.”
Outlaw, the 2013 PBR Touring Pro Division Champion, has had good luck at the Ty Pozzobon Invitational before – he won the inaugural event last year with a pair of 92-point rides on Proper Ripped and Bottoms Up.
He was a mere 8-for-36 (22.22 percent) heading into the Built Ford Tough Series summer break. Outlaw did post two Top-10 finishes in the first half, including a season-high sixth-place performance at the Ty Murray Invitational after he rode Western Hauler for 90.75 points to win Round 2.
His best year so far has been 2012, when he won $170,203, had three Top-5 finishes and eight Top-10 finishes. He finished that season 10th in the world, while making the 8-second mark 32.81 percent of the time. On Feb. 25, 2012, riding in his third PBR Built Ford Touch Series event, the five-time Arkansas state champion went 2-for-2 to win the WinStar World Casino Invitational in Houston – his only BFTS win to date.
Outlaw, a four-year pro and a former football player who packs 150 pounds of muscle onto a 5-foot-6 frame, felt pretty confident heading into the Jeff Robinson Invitational.
“My body feels 100 percent,” he said. “I wouldn’t have come back if it (was) still sore.”
Outlaw had never ridden Top Shot, the bull he rode on Friday. He didn’t look him over or try to get a sense of him as he mounted up in the chute.
“It’s best not to even think about it,” he said. “If you do, it affects your mind and body. You’ll bust off.”
When he climbs into the chute and onto a bull, he’s not thinking of much at all. “Calm, cool and collected” is his motto for that moment, one he shares with a lot of riders.
“That’s our 9 to 5,” he explained. “You go at it same way every time. You dominate.”
If he tells himself anything before he gives the nod and the gate opens, it’s to bear down and don’t quit.
“You can’t win no money by bucking off,” said Outlaw, a third-generation bull rider. “Don’t quit until your head hits the ground. My papa used to tell me don’t ride like no town young ‘un, you’ve got to ride like a country boy.”
That’s what he aims to do, every time, calling forth a grit he needed growing up in the country. That stamina comes in handy when he has to drive long distances from his home in Arkansas to events all over North America. He often rounds up fellow riders who live nearby, like Reese Cates of El Dorado, Arkansas, to split the costs of travel and to share the rigors of the road.
“It’s tough being away from family, but it’s even harder not being able to support them,” Outlaw said.
Every weekend just about, he’s up against the likes of Billy Robinson, a 12-year veteran, and Gage Gay, a 2014 PBR Rookie of the Year contender.
“They’re all my buds,” Outlaw said. “They’ve got families to support, just like me. We’re not in competition with each other. We’re there to dominate our bulls and take that money.”
Professional Bull Riders Touring Pro Division
Jeff Robinson Invitational
Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Asheville, N.C.
Final Results (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Total Points)
1. Mike Lee B (0-87-88-175 points)
2. Chase Outlaw A (84-88-0-172 points)
3. Kaique de Oliveira (0-83-86.5-169.5 points)
4. Ryan Miller (80-82.5-0-162.5 points)
5. Luis Blanco (87.5-0-0-87.5 points)
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