By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The stakes for this weekend’s PBR Cooper Tires Take The Money and Ride, presented by Union Home Mortgage, just got a hell of a lot higher for riders attempting to qualify for the 2020 PBR World Finals.
The postponement of the Pensacola, Florida, Unleash The Beast event that was scheduled for next weekend until 2021 means there is now one less premier series event for riders to gain crucial world points and qualify for the 2020 PBR World Finals on Nov. 12-15 in Arlington, Texas.
For some riders, this weekend could very well be their last shot to get themselves a spot at the first PBR World Finals to be ever be held outside of Las Vegas.
Other riders, of course, may be able to make up some peanut points at the Oct. 17 Touring Pro Division event in Llano, Texas, or hope to ride their way to Arlington via the 2020 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals on Nov. 6-7 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The time has to be now for riders sitting on the World Finals bubble heading into Nampa, Idaho, on Friday night.
As of today, the World Finals cutoff looks to be No. 39 in the world standings with at least four riders inside the Top 35 unable to compete at the World Finals because of injury, eligibility or travel restrictions. Therefore, riders sitting No. 35-39 have a tiny bit of breathing room, but ultimately should want to be well inside the Top 35 to avoid any what-if scenarios. Riders below the No. 40 mark should certainly be sweating if they are not already.
Round 1 airs at 9:45 p.m. ET on RidePass, and here are some riders this weekend with some work to do if they hope to make it to the World Finals next month.
No. 104 Cody Nance (100.84 points behind No. 35. | 80 points behind No. 39 | Velocity Tour standing: Unranked)
Cody Nance is facing a must-win situation this weekend in Nampa. Nance needs 100.84 points to get into the Top 35, and the maximum amount of world points he could earn in Nampa with a clean sweep is 140 world points. Nance would earn 80 points for winning the event average, and that alone would move him up to No. 39 in the world standings.
The other roadblock for Nance is that he is not eligible for the Velocity Tour Finals as he has not competed on the PWVT in 2020. He would need a lot of riders to turn out of Velocity Finals for him to earn a draw spot based on the world standings.
However, Nance already said last weekend in Tulsa that he is not going down without a fight, and you can count on Nance giving it his all in Nampa as he has done throughout his 12-year career. Nance has never been one to throw in the towel, that is for sure.
2020 has been an uphill battle for the 2009 Rookie of the Year. Nance missed the first five months of the season because of nerve damage in his right shoulder, and he has struggled to regain his previous form. He is 5-for-29 at all levels of competition this season, but the 11-time PBR World Finals has never missed the PBR’s season-ending event, and he is not ready to give up on keeping his qualification streak alive.
No. 57 Dalton Kasel (60.5 points behind No. 35 | 39.66 behind No. 39 | Velocity Tour standing: Unranked)
2019 Rookie of the Year Dalton Kasel won his first career event in Nampa last season, and boy would he like to make it two consecutive years with a victory in Idaho.
Kasel expected to have two events to make up 60.5 points in the world standings, but now it is down to one with the Pensacola announcement. However, Kasel has the exact kind of riding style and ability to make up significant world points in one event, and even one round.
The 21-year-old has seven round wins in 16 qualified rides on the premier series in his career – a 43.75% conversion rate. If Kasel can knock down some rides quickly in Nampa, he will likely place high in the rounds and earn those crucial world points. A round win on the Unleash The Beast is worth 20 points.
Similar to Nance, Kasel is not qualified for the Velocity Tour Finals, so he needs to make it happen in Nampa.
No. 50 Chase Dougherty (52.5 points behind No. 35 | 31.66 points behind No. 39 | Velocity Tour standing: No. 33)
There are always some nerves when a rider makes his Unleash The Beast debut, but what happens when the debut comes during the final event of the regular season?
Well, Chase Dougherty is going to find out this weekend as he got word on Thursday morning that he would be a last-minute alternate in Nampa.
Dougherty will certainly be ready to jump at the opportunity. The 2018 Wrangler National Finals bull riding winner has gone on a late push to attempt to reach his first PBR Finals following a last-minute decision to compete, and subsequently win, the Gooding, Idaho, TPD event on Sept. 26.
Dougherty has ridden six of his last nine, and he used two third-place finishes at the Casper, Wyoming, Velocity Tour events to punch his ticket to Sioux Falls for the Velocity Tour Finals.
The 22-year-old also is entered in the Llano, Texas, TPD event on Oct. 17 as he attempts to earn every point possible and sneak into the World Finals.
Dougherty would much rather make a splash in his premier series debut this weekend and crash the World Finals party in style, though.
No. 39 Marcus Mast (20.84 points behind No. 35 | Velocity Tour standing: No. 9)
Mast is right on the bubble line heading into Nampa, but he does have the Velocity Tour Finals wild card race in his back pocket.
The 26-year-old is on the cusp of qualifying for his first PBR World Finals, and he can go about qualifying two different ways. The best case scenario is breaking into the Top 35 with a strong showing in Nampa, but he could potentially earn one of the Velocity Tour Finals wild card spots up for grabs.
Mast went 5-for-7 at three Casper Velocity events for an important 19.5 world points, but those points also have him up to No. 9 in the Velocity Tour standings. Mast is the third-highest non-Top 35 rider in the Velocity Tour standings. The top two non-Top 35 riders in the Velocity Tour standings following the Velocity Finals earn an automatic berth to the World Finals.
No. 35 Ryan Dirteater (22.5 points up on No. 40 | Velocity Tour standing: Unranked)
12-time PBR World Finals Ryan Dirteater does not have to panic just yet, and the mild-mannered Cherokee Kid likely will not, but he will be sweating some after Nampa if he does not earn any world points.
Dirteater is hanging onto the No. 35 ranking heading into the Ford Idaho Center, with a small 22.5-point cushion on No. 40 Junio Patrik Souza.
However, the issue for Dirteater is that he may have to scoreboard watch on how things play out at the Velocity Tour Finals if he does not gain any points this weekend. Dirteater is not qualified for the Velocity Tour Finals.
Nampa is only Dirteater’s second event back from a broken collarbone, and he made sure he returned from his injury in time to make one last PBR World Finals before he retires at the end of the season.
Dirteater may have gone 0-for-2 at his final event in his home state, but he wants to make sure he gives his fans one more chance to watch him at the 2020 PBR World Finals.
No. 34 Boudreaux Campbell (23.16 points up on No. 40 | Velocity Tour standing: No. 22)
Boudreaux Campbell is in a similar position as Dirteater, except he is qualified for the Velocity Tour Finals and will be able to control his destiny and potentially qualify for his first World Finals. If Campbell does qualify, he will be the first rider this year to have qualified for both the PBR World Finals and the National Finals Rodeo. Campbell is ranked No. 3 in the PRCA standings and is a threat to unseat reigning six-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey.
Campbell’s focus until then is to take care of business on the PBR circuit, make it to Arlington for the PBR World Finals, and potentially make a late push at the Rookie of the Year title. The last rider to win the PBR’s Rookie of the Year title and then compete at the NFR was 2014 Rookie of the Year J.W. Harris.
No. 47 Wallace de Oliveira (43.16 points behind No. 35 | 23 points behind No. 39 | Velocity Standing: No. 2) and No. 66 Valdiron de Oliveira (76 points behind No. 35 | 55.16 points behind No. 39 | Velocity Standing: No. 24)
Wallace de Oliveira and Valdiron de Oliviera are not down to their final chances this weekend because both riders are qualified for the Velocity Tour Finals. ‘
Still, keep an eye on the two 41-year-olds as they look to set a PBR record as the oldest bull rider to qualify for the PBR World Finals. Gary Richard was 40 years old when he competed at the 2002 World Finals.
Valdiron would officially be the older of the two riders if they both qualify for the World Finals. Valdiron is five days older than Wallace.
This weekend is also Valdiron’s first premier series event since he retired following the 2018 PBR World Finals. The 11-time PBR World Finals qualifier with the fourth-most qualified rides all time revealed this past January that his retirement two years ago was because of a serious gastrointestinal infection.
Additional Riders To Keep An Eye on in Nampa: No. 37 Amadeu Campos, No. 40 Junio Patrik Souza, No. 41 Paulo Lima, No. 42 Rafael Henrique dos Santos, No. 43 Cody Casper, No. 48 Bradley Brittain and No. 64 Andre de Souza.
2020 World Points Breakdown for Unleash The Beast events below:
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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