PUEBLO, Colo. – Joao Ricardo Vieira heads into the summer break as the No. 1 bull rider with a 1,002-point lead on No. 2 Matt Triplett. Vieira has surged into the top position in the world in large part because of his two PBR Major victories (Iron Cowboy, Last Cowboy Standing) that have contributed to 1,777.5 of his 3,505 total world points.
Today, PBR.com takes a look back at Vieira’s Top-5 rides of the first half:
92.25 points on Walk Off (Seattle, Washington)
Vieira took over the No. 1 spot in the world from Triplett with the highest-scored ride of the season thus far.
The 30-year-old won the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Seattle by riding Jeff Robinson’s Walk Off for 92.25 points.
It was a stereotypical Vieira ride. Walk Off turned right into the 2013 Rookie of the Year’s hand and it was all over from there.
Vieira earned 100 points for winning the championship round, which tied a season-high with eight qualified rides, and he finished fourth in the event average to leave Seattle with a slim five-point.
“You know what, I am always hammering about how Joao doesn’t ride bulls very good to the right, but you give credit where credit is due,” said two-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network commentator Justin McBride said. “He rides bulls outstanding to the left and if you are going to have trouble with bulls that go one way, when you get them that go your way you take advantage of it. He did.”
90.75 points on Percolaor (Last Cowboy Standing)
Vieira posted the highest ride score at Last Cowboy Standing when he once again demonstrated how strong of a rider he is into his left-hand.
This time it was another Robinson bull – Percolator – and Vieira hustled his way to 90.75 points and an eventual payday of over $180,000 in Las Vegas.
Vieira won Round 3 aboard Percolator and 100 points toward the world standings. The points would be crucial because Vieira (277.5 points) and Stetson Lawrence (165 points) would buck off their final two bulls and the event-winner was determined by total round points.
“That bull has bucked me off before and this time I got back and I rode him for 90.75 points and I am happy,” Vieira said.
Ironically, one of the bulls Vieira bucked off was Walk Off (7.17 seconds).
Regardless, the No. 1 bull rider ended up getting that much richer in Las Vegas and opening up a major lead heading into the stretch run of the 2015 BFTS with another 877.5 points toward the standings.
90.5 points on Bruiser (Iron Cowboy)
The turnaround of Vieira’s season occurred at Iron Cowboy in February, specifically it may have initiated with his 90.5-point ride on Bruiser.
Vieira’s ride on Bruiser was one of his three qualified rides in Arlington, giving him three consecutive rides for the first time since October 2014. He also hadn’t finished higher than ninth all season long prior to Iron Cowboy.
Vieira previously rode Bruiser for 88.5 points last year in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Most important, Vieira’s win at Iron Cowboy helped him cut Triplett’s world lead nearly in half, and it was the beginning of the Brazilian’s march to the top. He earned 900 points to jump from 26th in the world standings to No. 5.
“This proves I am the Iron Cowboy and deserved this title more than last year because I rode all my bulls,” Vieira said. “I got on my bulls last year to win and stay on them and I couldn’t get it done. I feel more like the true champion because I got on all the bulls this weekend and rode.”
89.75 points on Brown Sugar (Seattle, Washington)
You can’t talk about Vieira’s world lead takeover in Seattle without looking back at his 89.75-point ride on Brown Sugar.
The ride was good enough for Vieira to win his first 15/15 Bucking Battle of the year and first since winning the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Anaheim last year.
“Joao made a very nice ride on Brown Sugar,” Berger said at the time. “Joao is as good as anybody into his hand and Brown Sugar made a mistake. If he had any chance of bucking him off he had to go right, and then Joao still has good enough timing where it would have been a task for Brown Sugar. That was the only way he was going to buck him off tonight. He decided to go into Joao’s hand and I just knew there was no chance as long as he stayed to the left.”
Vieira added, “He was a good bull. Chad Berger is the best contractor and he chatted with me. It was a good ride to win the 15/15.”
89.5 points on Fire Rock (New York)
Vieira started off the 2015 campaign slowly, but he did have some success during the third BFTS event of the season in New York.
He rode 3-of-5 bulls, including his 89.25-point ride on Pound The Alarm in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, to earn his first world standings points of the season – 170.
His 89.5-point ride on Fire Rock placed him third in the championship round and it was his first successful ride aboard Fire Rock in three attempts.
Vieira later rode Fire Rock again for 87.25 points during the second round of Last Cowboy Standing.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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