PUEBLO, Colo. – Joao Ricardo Vieira crossed his arms and leaned against the wall outside of the locker room in Charlotte, North Carolina, last weekend.
Vieira had only gone 4-for-13 on the Built Ford Tough Series and calmly shrugged his shoulders when asked if he was concerned with his poor showing since the Built Ford Tough Series resumed in August.
“I am not worried about it,” Vieira said with Robson Palermo translating. “I am staying relaxed. I just wait and need to ride my bulls. I don’t worry about that kind of stuff – pressure or people talking. I know if I ride three bulls this weekend I would be first.”
Vieira struggles continued though, and he went 0-for-2 in Charlotte with a 2.87-second buckoff against Texas Ranger and 4.13 seconds against Comanche.
He has now bucked off six consecutive bulls with two BFTS events remaining until the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Charlotte was also the fourth BFTS event in the past that Vieira has failed to record any points toward the world standings.
While Vieira has struggled, he has seen J.B. Mauney storm ahead in the world standings, while Kaique Pacheco has also gained 1,155 points on Vieira in the world standings.
“I do not feel the pressure,” Vieira said. “J.B. is high now and he has been riding good. All of the bull riders have these slumps. Some get out of the slump and ride good, some get hot like J.B. It is not luck, but he has had good draws and when you ride good, good stuff comes.”
Vieira also let three bulls get away from him in the two events before Charlotte. The 31-year-old bucked off DaNutso (7.02 seconds), Red Moon (7.26 seconds) and Supernatural (7.6 seconds) and if he would have converted on those bulls he would likely still be standing No. 1 in the world standings.
Instead, he has been shaking his head, picking up his bull rope and trying to right his ship in time for Finals.
“The three bulls, I shouldn’t have bucked off those bulls,” he said. “I haven’t felt good. It is not that I am not prepared. This is normal for a bull rider.”
Vieira has spent much of the past month trying to deal with a right knee injury that he first sustained at the PBR Brazil Finals in Barretos. He then also sustained a left thigh bruise in Springfield when Crazy Days slammed him afainst the side of the chute.
However, like Mauney, Vieira knows every rider at this point of the season is dealing with one or multiple injuries.
“I am more sore and painful everywhere,” Vieira said. “When you still have 1 percent health in your body to ride, (you ride). I will still ride even if I am beat up.”
Some inside the locker room have wondered if the pressure has gotten to Vieira, others remain mystified by his struggles trying to ride bulls to the left.
“I have bucked off some bulls (in) 7 seconds, and some bulls will go one way and turn back the other way,” he said. “I have bucked off some bulls in 3 or 4 seconds that went left and turned back right and got me out of position.
Everybody sees it. I am not worried about it. I am staying relaxed.”
Palermo said, “It seems like he is not worried. I think on the inside he probably feels a little bit.”
Even with his current 4-for-19 run, Vieira is on pace to potentially set a career-high in qualified rides. He is 36-for-76 on the BFTS and is within striking distance of his 41 qualified rides from last year.
In his first two seasons on tour, Vieira has finished third and second in the world standings.
As he said in Charlotte, if Vieira can convert on his bulls in Allentown, he can possibly re-take the world lead from Mauney.
Regardless, Vieira isn’t thinking about the journey to a world title. He is focused on the ultimate destination of winning it at the Finals.
“I am not thinking about what it takes to get there,” he said. “I am thinking about finishing it there.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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