PUEBLO, Colo. – Joao Ricardo Vieira began the season with one qualified ride or less in seven of the first eight Built Ford Tough Series events before winning Iron Cowboy in March.
Since turning around his season at Iron Cowboy, and eventually surging into the No. 1 ranking in the world standings, Vieira now returns to the United States in search of making sure he doesn’t begin the stretch run to the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals with a similar slow start.
That is why Vieira is in the draw for this Saturday’s Kasey Hayes and Stormy Wing BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Guymon, Oklahoma, at the Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena before turning his focus toward the BFTS event in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Aug 7.
“Guymon will be good practice before the BFTS,” Vieira said through translator Miriaham Contreras. “H.D. Page is bringing good bulls and fast ones. When you go to Brazil, the bulls are bigger, but they are slower than the ones here so you get used to that style riding for a while. When you get here it is harder because you have to get used to the ones form here because they are faster.”
Last year, Vieira began the second half of the BFTS 4-for-12.
Fans can catch all of the action from Guymon exclusively on PBR LIVE on CarbonTV.com starting at 9 p.m. CT.
Other top riders expected to compete in Guymon include No.4 Kaique Pacheco, No. 6 Valdiron de Oliveira, No. 9 Reese Cates and No. 10 J.W. Harris.
Vieira competed in three various bull ridings in Brazil prior to the Calgary Stampede.
The 30-year-old said that competing in Calgary, where he went 3-for-6, helped him prepare some for the bulls that he will attempt once the BFTS resumes. However, he knows he needs more practice so that he can hit the stretch run hard with a good performance in Biloxi.
“I rode in Calgary and I rode three bulls there,” he said. “That got me used to the bulls from here again and that is why I am riding in Guymon.”
Vieira said he is open to getting a rematch against Stone Sober – the $10,000 bounty bull – on Saturday night. He was bucked off by Stone Sober in 4.07 seconds at the Ty Murray Invitational after he surprisingly picked the bovine athlete during the championship-round draft.
It was the longest any rider has lasted on Stone Sober on the BFTS since Wing (4.49 seconds) at last year’s World Finals.
Stone Sober normally goes to the left, which would be right into Vieira’s dominant riding hand.
However, Vieira said it doesn’t necessarily benefit him compared to other riders that have challenged Stone Sober.
“Either way, he is not an easy bull to ride whether he goes left or right because he changes so much while you are on him,” Vieira said. “He might start off a certain way and then he will change midway through. I don’t think he is necessarily easier for me.”
Vieira will begin the second half of the BFTS with an over 1,000-point lead on No. 2 Matt Triplett, who was recently cleared to return to action because of a wrist injury.
Vieira knows he has to start the stretch run fast if he wants to achieve his goal of entering the Built Ford Tough World Finals ranked first or second in the world standings.
He also has already set his sights on the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout in Nashville on Aug. 21, where he understands one rider could potentially win 890 points.
It is the final PBR Major of the season and will be a 36-rider tournament, where eight eliminated riders will also have a second-chance opportunity to ride their way to the Final 4 by attempting to ride some of the rankest bulls in the PBR.
“I am very anxious and excited for that event because I like that format,” Vieira concluded. “It is very important to get as many points as I can before the Finals, especially if I get there in first or second place. That is what I am going for. If I can get there in first place with a big lead, that is what I really want to do.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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