By: Justin Felisko
January 25, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2017 PBR world standings are beginning to take shape, but there are still a few noteworthy riders missing from the Built Ford Tough Series.
Palermo hopes to return in Anaheim (1-25-17)
Three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo (torn ligament in his left knee) is one of those riders, and he believes he is now a week away from finally making his season debut.
“I am doing good,” Palermo said Wednesday afternoon. “I am planning on coming back next week in Anaheim. I was going to go to Sacramento, but it is still a little early. My knee has been good. It was kind of a mess before. I tried to get on a bull at my house and it didn’t work. It swelled up and all this stuff.”
The 34-year-old is being trained by Tony Cruz at XTC Fitness & Sports in Tyler, Texas.
Palermo has been posting videos of his rehab to social media outlets and appears leaner than he was in 2016.
“I have been training a little harder now,” Palermo said. “I am running fast in the gym right now, and I hope to be good for Anaheim.”
Meanwhile, Tanner Byrne said that he remains a few weeks away from making his 2017 debut after injuring his shoulder in the practice pen the week before the season began.
The 24-year-old underwent follow-up X-rays this week and learned that the crack in his scapula has healed, but that he also has a non-displaced coracoid – the bone that attaches the collarbone to the shoulder – fracture.
“They say still a couple weeks with that,” Byrne said via text message. “Thinking of returning to Iron Cowboy as of now.”
Fabiano Vieira, who is currently ninth in the world standings, is set to miss a second consecutive event because of a dislocated riding shoulder, while Wallace de Oliveira is also out for the Sacramento Clash while recovering from his clavicle surgery.
Brady Sims, who is ranked 12th in the world standings, will not be competing in Sacramento because of a torn ligament in the thumb of his riding hand.
There are a total of 10 alternate riders competing in Sacramento, but none have as much on the line as J.W. Harris.
The four-time PRCA champion is using the last of his four injury exemptions, and he is in danger of being cut from the Built Ford Tough Series after beginning the season 2-for-9.
Harris, who sustained a rib injury in Oklahoma City, is 80th in the world standings with 15 points.
He will need to earn roughly 116 or more points to put himself in contention for one of the five BFTS draw spots that are set to open after the Anaheim Invitational on Feb. 3-4.
Harris begins his weekend with a Round 1 matchup against Big Naughty (2-2, BFTS).
18-year-old Koal Livingston is making his BFTS debut as this weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event invite.
Livingston tied for the Velocity Tour victory with Kaique Pacheco in Hidalgo, Texas, in December.
The Burleson, Texas, native is 5-for-11 (45.45 percent) on the Velocity Tour and is 24th in the world standings.
Livingston takes on Whiskey Trip (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1.
The other seven alternates competing at the Golden 1 Center are 2016 PBR Brazil champion Dener Barbosa, Matt Triplett, Cody Heffernan, Keyshawn Whitehorse, Justin Paton, Brant Atwood, Reese Cates and Emilio Resende.
In other injury news, Kurt Shephard was released from OU Medical Presbyterian Hospital on Monday afternoon after being held overnight for a lacerated spleen.
Shephard did not need to undergo emergency surgery.
“I’m feeling good,” Shephard said. “I just had to be monitored to make sure the rupture did not get worse. I’m on the mend now.”
Shephard is expected to miss 12 weeks, per Dr. Tandy Freeman.
Current world leader Jess Lockwood brings a 162.5-point lead over No. 2 Rubens Barbosa into Sacramento.
Lockwood has drawn Baton Rouge (0-0, BFTS) for Round 1.
As a reminder, based on the PBR rulebook, riders that placed 1-30 in the 2016 world standings are guaranteed eight BFTS events before being subject to the cutline, while riders ranked 31-35 are guaranteed five BFTS events before being subject to being cut.
Therefore, until the sixth event of the 2017 season (Kansas City, Missouri), all alternates for BFTS events will be based on the 2016 world standings point totals plus the 2017 world standing point totals following any riders with injury exemptions.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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