By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Austin Richardson made quite the impression at the 2019 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals when he went 2-for-3 to finish in second place and earn a surprising Wild Card berth to the 2019 PBR World Finals.
Richardson has not returned to the PBR premier series since then, and he struggled in 2020, going a mere 4-for-29.
However, the 21-year-old has already matched his 2020 ride total this season, and Richardson quietly leads the PBR with two 90-point rides outside of the Unleash The Beast. (Jose Vitor Leme leads the PBR with five 90-point rides on the Unleash The Beast.)
If Richardson can produce a few more 90-point heroics this weekend at the PBR Aggieland Classic in College Station, Texas, then a trip to the UTB as a Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour winner could be in the cards.
“My game plan is always to win,” Richardson told Alex Miller of the Bryan College Station Eagle. “I always expect to win every time I show up. I just hope I can do great these next few weekends, and hopefully College Station will help me get up onto the Unleash the Beast series on TV. That would be awesome.”
Richardson has drawn 712 (0-0) for Round 1 of the Aggieland Classic on Friday night at Reed Arena. RidePass will carry all the action beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
This weekend will be a major opportunity for Richardson to make a move up the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour standings. He is ranked 12th in the PWVT standings, but he is the second-highest-ranked rider competing in College Station. PWVT No. 1 Cody Nance highlights nine of the Top 10 Velocity Tour riders slated to compete at the Unleash The Beast’s PBR First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Other riders tentatively expected to compete in College Station include 2002 World Champion Ednei Caminhas, 11-time PBR World Finals qualifier Valdiron de Oliveira, Velocity No. 11 Michael Lane, Leonardo Lima, Cody Casper, Luis Blanco and Hunter Ball.
A victory at the Aggieland Classic could rocket Richardson to the No. 1 ranking on the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour.
Richardson finished in seventh place at last weekend’s PBR at Tuacahn Amphitheatre Touring Pro Division event with a 90-point ride on Hell Hound. He went 1-for-4 overall. At the last Velocity Tour event in Pensacola, Florida, Richardson also hit the 90-point threshold with 90.5 points on Bring The Bling.
The Wilmer, Texas native is 4-for-12 at all levels of competition this season and is sitting 53rd in the world standings.
“I think I’ve got good things coming this year, for sure, if I keep up the hard work and do the things I need to do,” Richardson said.
Two-time PBR World Finals qualifier Mason Taylor met Richardson when the two 11-year-olds were entered in a senior steer riding contest. The two built a friendship and began to move up the ranks together.
Taylor said this week that Richardson is a rider to keep an eye on this spring and that Richardson is much more than the rider who went 0-for-5 at his first PBR World Finals.
“Austin Richardson is hot,” Taylor said. “That son of a buck has been 90 at the last couple of events he has been to. He is sure is turning the juice on. He just kind of had a bad Finals in 2019 because he let the crowds and everything get to him. It was his dream come true. Once he can get up here and settle down and just actually worry about riding instead of just being there, he will be a force to reckoned with.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andre Silva/Bull Stock Media
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