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Vieira in for BlueDEF Finals; Bubble Riders Get One Last Chance

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Things have not gone at all how Joao Ricardo Vieira envisioned them when he entered the Battle at the Beau Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) event in August as the No. 1 bull rider in the world standings.

Vieira has since gone 6-for-20, lost his 1,007.5-point lead atop the world standings and been battered and beaten in the arena.

Last weekend was the latest dark cloud moment for the 30-year-old after Buck Even stomped on his left thigh and knee in Tucson, Arizona, to knock him out of the BFTS regular-season finale.

Vieira was diagnosed with a thigh bruise and a sprained MCL by Dr. Tandy Freeman in Tucson.

Vieira has confirmed with the PBR competition department that he will be competing at the BlueDEF Velocity Tour Finals on Friday and Saturday night as he tries to gain ground on world leader J.B. Mauney.

Vieira heads into the KFC Yum! Center 1,397.5 points behind Mauney in the world standings – a 2,405-point swing from when the BFTS resumed in Biloxi.

The 2013 Rookie of the Year is very much alive in the world title race, but his riding of late, as well as his health, has put him at a distinct disadvantage compared to Mauney and No. 2 Kaique Pacheco.

Regardless, Vieira could potentially earn points in Louisville and close the gap on Mauney, who also is competing in Louisville.

Vieira has drawn Little Waspy in Round 1, while Mauney will face Back in Black.

Pacheco takes on Repo.

Other world title contenders competing in Louisville include No. 4 Matt Triplett and No. 5 J.W. Harris.

Both riders could potentially be eliminated if Mauney earns 101 more world points than them this weekend.

While the race at the top of the standings remains entrenched with those five riders, the race to qualify at the bottom of the standings is much closer.

Lachlan Richardson enters the weekend holding the final qualification spot for the World Finals in the world standings (No. 36) and is competing in Louisville as the sixth alternate after various riders chose to not compete at the BlueDEF Finals.

It is a major break for the 22-year-old who is trying to qualify for his fourth consecutive World Finals.

Richardson leads No. 37 Michael Lane by only 49.17 points – the difference of only finishing second in a round at the BlueDEF Finals.

Meanwhile, No. 38 Dave Mason is only 72.5 points behind Richardson, and No. 39 Luis Blanco sits just 122.5 points out of the No. 36 position.

Things are just as tight above Richardson in the standings.

No. 33 Robson Palermo leads Richardson by 65 points, and No. 34 Brady Sims and No. 35 Douglas Duncan are only five and 46.25 points, respectively, behind Palermo.

There are a total of 1,150 points toward the world standings are available in Louisville.

The first-place finisher in a round receives 80 points. Riders placing second through fifth receive points on a graduated scale (50, 30, 20, 15).

The first-place finisher in the event average receives 200 points. Riders placing second through 10th receive points on a graduated scale (125, 75, 50, 40, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5).

There are also five qualification spots up for grabs in Louisville – three to the Top-3 finishers in the event average, one for the 2015 BlueDEF Velocity Tour champion and one for the top-finishing international invite.

CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY’S DAY SHEET

PACHECO TRYING TO KEEP PACE WITH MAUNEY

TUCSON, Ariz. – Here are three things we learned from the Cooper Tires Take The Money and Ride, presented by Jack Daniel’s, Built Ford Tough Series event at the Tucson Convention Center this weekend.

Pacheco earns first career 90-point ride on BFTS

Rookie Kaique Pacheco is doing all he can to try and keep pace with world leader J.B. Mauney and stay alive in the 2015 world title race.

Pacheco nearly earned his third win of the 2015 season when he rode Compact for 90 points in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round on Saturday night.

It is the first 90-point ride of Pacheco’s BFTS career.

“It takes hard work,” Pacheco said with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “I have been riding good, but I never had 90 points. I am so happy. I knew I was going to pick him because I rode him for 88 points in Denver (Touring Pro Finals). This time, I rode him for 90.”

However, it was the master of the art of 90 points – Mauney – stealing the show from Pacheco later in the championship round with the 62nd 90-point ride of his 10-year BFTS career.

Mauney went on to ride Mr. Bull for 90 points to split the round with Pacheco and snatch the event win from the star-studded rookie.

Rounding out the Top 5 in the championship round was Ryan Dirteater (88 points on I’m a Gangster Too), Mike Lee (86.5 points on Mr. Clark) and Aaron Roy (83 points on Rooster).

Pacheco (3-for-3) finished second in the event overall with 320 points.

Therefore, Pacheco heads into next weekend’s BlueDEF Velocity Tour Finals in Louisville, Kentucky, 1,250 points behind Mauney.

Both riders are planning on competing in Louisville.

Pacheco, who is currently No. 1 in the BlueDEF standings, understands how important the Velocity Finals will be as he tries to chip away at Mauney’s lead.

A rider can earn potentially a maximum of 440 points toward the world standings at the BlueDEF Finals.

“It is very important over there,” Pacheco said. “If you win first place you can get more points to get close. It is important.”

Mauney extends world lead with fourth victory of 2015

Mauney won’t come out and directly say that he smells blood in the water, but the current world leader is certainly riding like a shark with one purpose and one mission.

Mauney went 3-for-3 to win his fourth event of the season and extend his world lead to over 1,200 points on the rest of the field.

The mission for Mauney is very simple: Win his second career gold buckle.

The gameplan is even simpler: Have fun and keep riding his bulls.

That mentality now has him up on Pacheco by 1,250 points, as well as world No. 3 Joao Ricardo Vieira by 1,397.5 points.

Vieira bruised his left thigh and sprained his left knee (grade 2 MCL) when he was stepped on by Buck Even following his 67.75-point ride in Round 2. He was unable to attempt his re-ride bull and left the arena with a brace on his knee.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Vieira is probable for the World Finals. Vieira told PBR.com he is unsure if he will be able to compete in Louisville.

Mauney also has a commanding lead on No. 4 Matt Triplett (2,100) and No. 5 J.W. Harris (2,175).

The most amount of points a rider can earn toward the world standings at the Built Ford World Finals is 2,200.

Triplett went 0-for-2 in Tucson, while Harris finished 1-for-3 and picked up only 10 points toward the world standings.

Mauney rode HD for 88 points to win Round 2 earlier on Saturday night. He rode Pandora for 85.25 points on Friday night in Round 1 and has ridden six consecutive bulls in the past two weeks, which ties his season-high.

The Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy had previously ridden Mr. Bull for 88 points during last year’s World Finals.

“He threw me off the first time I ever got on him, and the second time I rode him in Vegas,” Mauney said. “I pretty much knew what he was going to do. He was right around to the left and I kind of got over in there and as soon as I did, he hit his head on the corner post and I knew he was going to go back the other way.

“I was a little late and luckily I cut him off and got caught back up to him. That is what it all boils down to. You make it happen, you don’t let it happen. If I wouldn’t have made the moves I did, he would have thrown me off surely when he went back the other way because I was in no position to back the other way. Never, never quit.”

He concludes the BFTS regular season with a BFTS-best 14 round wins, four event wins and a 58.06 percent (36-for-62) riding average.

Mauney also will head into the World Finals as the No. 1 rider for the first time in his career.

“This is the first I ever went into the Finals sitting first,” Mauney said. “I have always been the one chasing and now I am the chasee I guess. Everybody is chasing me.”

Richardson makes the most of final opportunity; update on bubble riders

Lachlan Richardson arrived at the Tucson Convention Center well aware of the fact that he was likely not qualifying for the BlueDEF Velocity Tour Finals unless multiple riders ahead of him in the world standings decide to opt out of next weekend’s optional event.

Therefore, the 22-year-old understood he had to step up this weekend if he wanted to do all he could to potentially qualify for the World Finals for a fourth consecutive season.

Things didn’t start well for Richardson when he bucked off Outside The Box (5.3 seconds) in Round 1 on Friday night, but he rebounded on Saturday with an 86.25-point ride on Chocolate Thunder to finish the round tied for second-place with Cody Nance (86.25 points on Mortimer).

The ride netted him 55 points toward the world standings and his 1-for-3 performance helped him pick up 65 points overall.

Most of all, Richardson put himself into the final spot for qualifying for the World Finals – 36th in the world standings – heading into next weekend’s BlueDEF Finals.

He entered the event in 37th.

“That was real big,” Richardson said. “That was the attitude I needed to go at it with. I know I have been in this same position before, which annoys me more because I should be in a better spot this time of year. I can’t change it now, but stay on.”

His performance drops Michael Lane (0-for-2) into the 37th position in the world standings.

However, Lane will definitely be competing in Louisville and only trails Richardson by 49.17 points.

“All I can do now is let the rest happen as it will,” Richardson said.

No. 38 Dave Mason (-72.5), No. 39 Luis Blanco (-122.5), No. 40 Tyler Harr (-130) and Neil Holmes (-142.5) are also on the outside of the World Finals picture leading into next week’s BlueDEF Finals.

All four riders went a combined 0-for-8.

No. 33 Robson Palermo was so dedicated to earning a qualified ride that he sustained a concussion in Round 2 hanging on for the 8 seconds.

Palermo’s hardnosed effort aboard Big Papa Pump earned him an 84.75-point ride and a tie for fourth place in Round 2.

The three-time World Finals event winner walked away from Tucson with 45 points toward the world standings and leads Lane by 114.17 points.

“I don’t know. I hit hard on the ground,” Palermo said. “I came back here to the locker room and I didn’t pass the (concussion) test. I didn’t know, but my wife told me I made 45 points. It is good. I am glad I rode that bull. I didn’t know anything about the bull. I asked some guys and nobody knew. He went left and turned to the right and I rode him, but my dismount was not so good.”

Palermo said that as long as he passes his concussion test this week, he will ride in Louisville and attempt to clinch a bid to the World Finals.

No. 35 Douglas Duncan (1-for-3) rode Easy Money for 83 points in Round 2, but was bucked off by Stanley FatMax (3.11 seconds) in the championship round.

He earned no points toward the world standings.

INJURY UPDATES

In addition to Vieira and Palermo, three other riders did not compete in the championship round according to Dr. Tandy Freeman: Bonner Bolton (sore right elbow and shoulder, riding arm), Reese Cates (sore right arm, riding arm) and Fabiano Vieira (sore left leg).

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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