By: Justin Felisko
April 14, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – The door is open for any of the riders on the Built Ford Tough Series that want to get themselves back into the world title race.
Open opportunity for riders to gain ground in Billings (4-13-16)
With world leader J.B. Mauney sitting out the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational in Billings, Montana, this weekend, that means riders can try and close the gap on Mauney.
One rider can earn up to 900 potential points in Billings and the Top 12 riders in the world are separated by only 860 world points.
However, the easiest opportunity for a shift atop the world standings may come from the Top 5 riders in the standings – No. 2 Fabiano Vieira, No. 3 Paulo Lima, No. 4 Joao Ricardo Vieira and No. 5 Shane Proctor are within 350 world points of Mauney.
Not including round points, the winner of the event average can earn 500 world points, which could easily push any of the four riders ahead of Mauney.
No. 9 Mike Lee is only 755 points behind Mauney and will attempt on Friday night to join Guilherme Marchi as the only two riders with 500-plus rides in BFTS history.
Lee will attempt to get career ride 500 against War Cry (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1. War Cry is making his BFTS debut and is 6-0 at non-BFTS events.
No. 13 Mason Lowe is only 950 points behind Mauney and is returning to competition after missing last week’s event in Little Rock, Arkansas, with strep throat.
Lowe has drawn Steamy Windows (0-0,BFTS) in Round 1. Steamy Windows was called for an infraction during his only BFTS out last year in Tucson, Arizona.
Lowe has a potential home-run matchup with Crossfire (23-1, BFTS) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night. The event can be seen on CBS national television Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
“I’m feeling 90-plus,” Lowe said Wednesday.
No. 27 Aaron Roy is also returning this weekend after missing last week because of a right thumb sprain (riding hand). Roy has a Round 1 meeting against Whiskey Bent (0-0, BFTS).
“It’s feeling good,” Roy said. “I can move it without hurting.”
Injuries remain relatively at a minimum this week with only Ben Jones (left shoulder), Cody Heffernan (visa issues) and J.W. Harris (elbow surgery) being the other Top 35 riders with Mauney out for this weekend.
The four riders have been replaced by No. 36 Kurt Shephard, No. 37 Reese Cates, No. 38 Jorge Valdiviezo and No. 39 Douglas Duncan.
Shephard is only five points out of the Top 35, while Duncan is only 30 points off the pace.
Shephard has a Round 1 matchup against Set ‘em Up Joe (16-5, BFTS). Set ‘em Up Joe bucked off Valdiviezo in 7.55 seconds last week. In fact, three of the bull’s buckoffs have come between 7 and 8 seconds this season.
Duncan has drawn Little Louie (0-0, BFTS). Matt Werries rode Little Louie for 85 points at the Portland, Oregon, BlueDEF Tour event.
Valdiviezo gets a shot against Wipeout (6-1, BFTS). Lee won the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Sioux Falls two weeks ago with an 89.25-point ride on Wipeout. Valdiviezo has bucked off four straight, but all have come past 5.03 seconds.
Cates has drawn Devil in Disguise (1-1, BFTS). Devil in Disguise hasn’t bucked on the BFTS since September 2014, but Corey Granger recently rode him for 89 points in Portland.
Jay Miller is ranked 50th in the world standings, but is set to make his BFTS season debut courtesy of his 2-for-2 victory at the Milwaukee BlueDEF Tour event last week. Miller, who is 1-for-13 in eight career events, has drawn Bobby Sox (0-1, BFTS). Ryan Dirteater rode Bobby Sox for 85 points in Sioux Falls.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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