By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Lucas Divino has a large mountain to overcome if he hopes to become a true threat in the 2020 World Championship race next week at the 2020 PBR World Finals in Arlington, Texas.
Regardless, the No. 7-ranked bull rider in the world took a small step forward on Friday night with a 90-point ride on Young Man’s Blues during Round 1 of the 2020 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Divino was the only Top-7 rider in the world standings inside the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center to record a qualified ride, and he will be in a position Saturday night to take a small chunk out of Jose Vitor Leme’s lead on him in the PBR’s $1 million championship race.
Divino is 781 points behind Leme after picking up eight points on the world No. 1 in Round 1. Party Animal bucked Leme off in 6.47 seconds in Round 1.
World No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira (5.29 seconds against Slumlord) and No. 4 Daylon Swearingen (3.62 seconds against Here to Party) also were bucked off.
Divino could potentially earn 90 world points on Saturday night if he can win Round 2, the championship round and the event average. He has drawn The Juice (0-0) for Round 2. He trails Leme, who is also the No. 1 rider in the Velocity Tour, by 76 points in the Velocity standings. Therefore, he is not out of the running for the $35,000 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Championship.
Leme has drawn Hang em High (0-0) for Round 2. The 24-year-old is a bit of a slump for his standards as he has ridden only three of his past nine bulls at all levels of competition, but it is only a matter of time before he bounces back.
Is the door open for Divino? Barely, but one rider can earn a maximum of 1,060 world points at the 2020 World Finals by winning the event average and all five rounds inside AT&T Stadium, so there is still an outside chance for Divino to make a miraculous comeback for a world title.
Vieira remains 459.09 points behind Leme, and he will look to make up some ground when he faces Barrier Grief (0-0) on Saturday night.
Round 1 winner Mason Taylor moved up to No. 10 in the world standings with his 90.5-point ride on Walking Tall. Taylor is 993.75 points behind Leme in the world standings, and 65 points back in the Velocity Tour championship race.
Fans can watch the conclusion of the 2020 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals exclusively on RidePass beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andre Silva/Bull Stock Media
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