By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Montana natives Dakota Louis and Jake Lockwood are hoping some success in their home state this weekend at the PBR Ariat Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, will result in them being one step closer to qualifying for their first PBR World Finals.
Louis and Lockwood both head into Round 2 on Saturday night (RidePass 8:45 p.m. ET) after notching important qualified rides on Friday night at First Interstate Arena in Billing, Montana.
Louis is sitting in fourth place following an 86.5-point ride on Chilli Whap in Round 1 that netted the Browning, Montana, native eight world points.
“Oh, I had a blast out there,” Louis told RidePass host Colby Yates. “There’s no comparison to the Montana fans (when) you go anywhere else. I love this place.”
Louis is ranked 36th in the world standings and trails No. 35 Taylor Toves by only 5.5 points.
The 28-year-old has slowly been climbing his way up the world rankings since the Unleash The Beast resumed its second half on Aug. 7 in Bismarck, North Dakota. Louis has earned 28 points since Bismarck to move up nine positions in the world standings. At the start of the second half, Louis was 21.66 points behind the Top 35.
“Just keep staying on my bulls, one at a time, and let the good times roll,” Louis said.
Louis has drawn Notorious (4-2, UTB/METC) for Round 2 on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, the man right on Louis’ heels is Lockwood.
On a night where the PBR world was focused on Jake’s brother Jess, it was in fact Jake making the higher-scoring ride in front of the home state crowd.
Jake could really use a big weekend in Billings just as badly as Jess. While Jess is trying to rundown Jose Vitor Leme in the world title race, Jake is trying to join his brother at the World Finals for the first time after having to be a fan in attendance when his brother won his two gold buckles.
The 2020 Rookie of the Year contender rode Big Western for 85.25 points in Round 1, and he will try to win his first premier series event in the same arena his older brother won his in 2016.
“To get a ride anywhere you’re excited, but I couldn’t be any happier to do it in the home state here,” Lockwood told Yates.
Lockwood has drawn Whiskey Juice (0-0, UTB) for Round 2.
Jake is only 9.34 points behind the Top 35, and he is also a mere 3.84 points behind Louis in the ever-increasing tight race to qualify for the Finals.
“That’s what we’re all shooting for,” he concluded. “We want to be at the top level. So just one bull at a time.”
VETERANS MAUNEY AND BARBOSA ALSO TRYING TO MAKE A MOVE
Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney began the weekend with 85 points on Fearsomely Confused to tie for eighth place in Round 1. The 3.5 world points moves Mauney to No. 98 in the world standings.
This weekend is the first time Mauney, who missed the first seven months of the season recovering from reconstructive right shoulder surgery, has begun an event with a qualified ride since returning to competition.
Mauney is still 80 points behind the Top 35 with five regular-season events remaining after Billings.
The North Carolina native has a rematch against Marquis Metal Works Coriolis Effect (1-1, UTB) in Round 2. Coriolis Effect bucked Mauney off in 5 seconds last month in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Rubens Barbosa is down to his final Unleash The Beast exemption this weekend and the 36-year-old is not going down without a fight. Barbosa is in 14th place after riding Hot Wired for 80.75 points in Round 1.
Barbosa is 80.5 points out of the Top 35 heading into his Round 2 matchup against Marquis Metal Works Draggin Up (5-9, UTB/METC).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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