FRESNO, Calif – Two months into the 2015 Built Ford Tough Series season and there have been a variety of early-season storylines, new faces and a group of up-and-comers trying to make an impact.
Below is a by the numbers look at how things have played out so far in 2015:
5: World leader Triplett leads BFTS in round wins
Matt Triplett has been the No. 1 bull rider in the world for the past five weeks and has made his climb to the top via a BFTS-leading five round wins, as well as his two victories in Oklahoma City and Anaheim, California.
The 23-year-old is on pace for a career-year, and his riding percentage (53.33 percent) is 12 points higher than his career average of 41.33 percent.
Triplett’s fast start to the season and success at placing high in individual rounds has allowed him to retain his hold on the No. 1 position in the world standings despite his streak of seven consecutive buckoffs that he brings into this weekend’s Fresno Invitational.
*Riders that win a BFTS round are awarded 100 points to the world standings.
62.07: Three-time World Champion and defending champion Alves shows value of consistency
Silvano Alves has not been fazed by the new points system, and the reigning World Champion has proved that consistency can still pay off – and is extremely important – in the race for a world title.
Alves has ridden the most bulls on the BFTS (18) and leads the PBR’s marquee tour with a riding average of 62.07 percent.
The 27-year-old began the year with 11 consecutive rides and is now the all-time record holder with 24 rides in a row (dating back to last season) on the BFTS.
During that run of consistency, Alves went 3-for-3 to win the Chicago Invitational.
The richest bull rider in Western sports history is well on his way to potentially surpassing the $6 million mark in career earnings this season by doing what he has made a career out of doing: Making the 8-second mark.
2: Cates remains in hunt with two victories
One of the main goals of the PBR’s new points system is to reward riders that win an event.
Reese Cates is the main beneficiary of the new system when it comes to event wins as he has earned 995 of his total points in the world standings (1,297.5) thanks to two victories in Baltimore, and Sacramento, California.
Cates, who is ranked 16th on the BFTS with a 40-percent riding average, is tied with Triplett for the BFTS lead in event wins and is the No. 3 bull rider in the world standings.
Not only have the victories put Cates in the early world title race, but the points earned also helped him get a spot on the BFTS after beginning the season with only three injury exemptions following a six-month recovery from right shoulder surgery.
*Winners of a BFTS regular-season event are credited with 400 points toward the world standings.
917.5: 20-year-old Pacheco out to impressive lead in rookie race
Kaique Pacheco stormed onto the BFTS with an 87.75-point ride on Rough ‘em Up Tuck to win the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in New York and then won his first BFTS event just three weeks later in St. Louis, Missouri.
However, those that have been following the BlueDEF Velocity Tour were not surprised to see the 20-year-old jump out to a hot start and soar to the top of the rookie standings, as well as fourth in the overall world standings, after Pacheco went 10-for-13 and won three BDVT events.
Pacheco earned 490 points in St. Louis, but he has also won four BFTS rounds – second-most on tour – to create his 917.5-point cushion on Australian Dave Mason in the hunt for the 2015 Rookie of the Year title.
8: New riders happy to be inside the Top 30 of the world standings
There are eight new riders that fell short of qualifying for the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals – some because of injuries, while others simply because they fell short of earning enough points toward the standings – that are now within the Top 30 of the world standings as of Fresno.
Cates, Pacheco, Shane Proctor, Ben Jones, Dave Mason, Bonner Bolton, Bryan Titman and Cooper Davis are all in the draw this weekend and have been able to work their way on tour.
Under the new points system, riders that succeed on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour have an easier path to the BFTS compared to prior seasons. Instead of relying on simply winning a Touring Pro Division event to earn an automatic bid to a single BFTS event last season, riders that perform consistently in the lower-level tours of the PBR will have a greater chance to earn enough points to earn a chance to usurp a struggling rider on the BFTS.
Therefore, the system has resulted in the previously mentioned riders getting a chance to return to the BFTS – Jones, Proctor and Cates – or get their first real crack at attempting to stay on tour – Mason, Titman, Davis, Bolton.
Half of the riders (Cates, Pacheco, Proctor and Jones) are within the Top 15.
107.5: The race for an opportunity to ride on the BFTS
Only 107.5 points currently separate No. 30 Cooper Davis from No. 46 Neil Holmes in the world standings. That means there are as many as 16 riders within a win on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour or a good few weekends in a row away from getting a chance to ride on the BFTS.
The race from 30-40 is even tighter, with only 87.5 points separating Davis from No. 38/39/40 Cody Tyler White, Jay Miller and Skeeter Kingsolver.
*Unlike BFTS events, BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division events only award points toward the world standings via overall finish in the event average and not round placement.
900: Season-high points earned at BFTS event by Joao Ricardo Vieira
Joao Ricardo Vieira soared from 26th in the world standings all the way to No. 5 by winning the first PBR Major last weekend in Arlington, Texas.
Vieira’s 3-for-3 performance at Iron Cowboy not only resulted in him earning 600 points for winning the event, but he earned an additional 300 points for winning two rounds in the event that featured 1.5 times more points up for grabs than a standard BFTS event.
There are two remaining PBR Majors set for 2015: Last Cowboy Standing, which highlights Cowboy Spring Break on May 22-24, and the Jack Daniel’s Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee, on Aug. 22-23.
46: Long John has posted a bull score of 46 points three times in 2015
Long John leads the BFTS with three bull scores of 46 points (Oklahoma City; St. Louis; Arlington, Texas) and is averaging 45.25 points per out.
Mick E Mouse has posted the highest bull score of the season with a 47-point outing in Anaheim when he bucked off J.W. Harris in 2.65 seconds, and Marlene Henry’s bull also has a streak of 32 consecutive buckoffs to his credit.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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