By: James Youness
PUEBLO, Colo. – Outside of the PBR Camping World Team Series, bull riding is very much a one-man, one-bull sport. Technically speaking, even during the enticing 5-on-5 format, it still comes down to one cowboy attempting to best one bovine at a time, albeit with matching jerseys and near-even paydays.
So, when Head Coach Cody Lambert and the Texas Rattlers came into year two without a formal team captain, did that mean the living legend was confident in each of his riders sharing the responsibilities, or that nobody stood out from the pack in leading the charge?
“We haven’t gotten into it that far yet,” Lambert offered.
“Daniel Keeping is just a natural leader. When we signed him on the Reserve Roster (last season), we didn’t realize we were going to get that, so through workouts and things like that, he’s right there with Joao (Ricardo Vieira) every step of the way.
Making a name for himself last season during the inaugural PBR Teams campaign, Keeping stormed onto the scene with an impressive 11-for-16 record en route to powering his Rattlers squad to a Semifinals appearance at the 2022 PBR Teams Championship.
But as a PBR co-founder who’s witnessed all 30 years of PBR history, Lambert surely considered a grizzled veteran with a lengthy resume like JRV’s.
“It would’ve been Joao before we started because he’s always been a great leader and someone who leads by example,” Lambert said.
“He’ll always be that guy, but everyone else on the team, that’s when we talk about the character. Everyone else on the team is serious about being here and serious about getting the job done, whatever it takes. But as far as one person with the title of team captain, we haven’t even discussed that.”
For a deeply talented Texas squad, perhaps there’s a leader in the stretch circle, a leader in the locker room and a leader during workouts.
But when it comes to leading on the dirt, there’s no doubt Vieira is that guy right now for the Rattlers.
After initially opting out of the first night of competition nursing an injury, Vieira watched on during the opening slate in Kansas City as the Rattlers dueled the Oklahoma Freedom. Eventually tapped on the shoulder by Lambert, asked whether he’d be game to step in for a re-ride attempt, the 39-year-old quickly suited up and climbed into the chutes minutes later.
Immediately impacting the game with an 88.5-point ride after besting Cliff Hanger, Vieira kickstarted a productive weekend for the Rattlers, but Texas ended up dropping the game, as the Freedom opted to keep a 70-point score from Eli Vastbinder, the ultimate difference-maker.
That wouldn’t stop the veteran from returning to competition the next night. Matching his opening-night score, he doubled down for Lambert and squad, riding Tijuana Two-Step for 88.5 points. Later closing out his flawless 3-for-3, event MVP-earning showcase, JRV stayed perfect, this time making the 8 atop Outlaw (87 points) as the seasoned rider extended his ride streak.
Bringing all of the momentum in the world into last weekend’s event in Anaheim, he again stepped up for his team, logging 86 (Shot in the Dark) and 89.25-point (Happy Hour) journeys while upping the successful out count to five.
In a campaign highlighted by several rookie standouts, he remains the top threat to No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme, who currently sits atop the MVP standings, as the veterans have continued to set the bar.
Is there something about the team setting that makes JRV want to shine for his teammates?
Has the veteran’s time this summer working with Lambert helped provide the spark?
Or is he just sticking his hand in there and doing his job like normal?
Depends who you ask, really. But regardless of opinion, he’s one of the hottest riders on tour heading into this weekend’s action on Broadway.
As the 5-on-5 tour sets its course for the fourth event of the 2023 PBR Camping World Team Series season, let’s take a look at the starting lineups for Friday night’s competition inside Bridgestone Arena (With action set to begin at 7:45 p.m. CDT on Pluto TV).
NASHVILLE STARTING LINEUPS
*Denotes a rematch
Kansas City Outlaws (4-3) vs. Texas Rattlers (3-4)
Wingson Henrique da Silva vs. Spice (Flying C/Tom Baker)
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Hoka Hey (Blake Sharp/Chris Utz/Carey Brothers)
Cassio Dias vs. 44 Magnum (Hookin’ W Ranch)
Creek Young vs. Fat Randy (Davis Rodeo Ranch)
*Marcus Mast vs. Cliff Hanger (Pioneer Bulls/McCoy Rodeo)
*Brady Fielder vs. Freakin Wicked (Davis Rodeo Ranch/Ed & Cindy Fogle)
Bob Mitchell vs. Big Bank (Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell)
Brady Oleson vs. Slip Knot (Davis Rodeo Ranch)
Leonardo Castro Ferreira vs. Flashbang (GN Livestock & Bucking Bulls/Lucas Manning Bucking Bulls)
Braidy Randolph vs. UTZ BesTex Smokestack (Blake Sharp/Chris Utz/Carey Brothers)
Brady Fielder vs. Freakin Wicked (84.5 points in North Charleston, South Carolina)
Marcus Mast vs. Cliff Hanger (7.95 seconds in Fort Worth, Texas; 3.39 seconds in Big Sky, Montana)
KANSAS CITY RIDER TO WATCH: As the league continues to provide opportunities for talented young riders to show the world what they’ve got, the rookies have really impressed in 2023. Bringing a 3-for-4 record into Nashville this weekend, fresh off a flawless 2-for-2 showing inside Honda Center, Cassio Dias prepares to dance with 44 Magnum Friday night as his Outlaws take on the Texas Rattlers. While he joins teammates Wingson Henrique da Silva and fellow rookie Leonardo Castro Ferreira with a squad-best three qualified rides, he’s arguably the hottest coming into Stampede Days after recording 87 and 88.5-point rides in Anaheim, California, building on his 89-point journey atop War Daddy to start the season. A threat to log another flashy score, he’ll hope to help his Kansas City squad stay hot, which is 4-1 through the past two events.
TEXAS RIDER TO WATCH: Other than JRV, who’s amassed an impressive 5-for-6 record for the Cody Lambert-coached squad, Daniel Keeping is the team’s only other rider to post more than one qualified ride through the league’s first three events. Beginning the season 3-for-6 overall, Keeping most recently went the distance in Anaheim, paired against Doc Holiday to earn a sound 86.5-point score and get back to .500 on the year. But with Keeping set to get some rest Friday as his squad brings a 3-4 record into Friday night’s opening game, he’ll hope to get some help from teammates Brady Oleson, Braidy Randolph, Brady Fielder and rookie Creek Young, who’s set to challenge Fat Randy.
Carolina Cowboys (5-2) vs. Oklahoma Freedom (5-2)
Josh Frost vs. Mr. Excavator (Cornwell Bucking Bulls/PCP Bucking Bulls)
Thiago Salgado vs. Rip Tide (Davis Rodeo Ranch)
Cooper Davis vs. Kevin (Paige Stout/Lukas Banning Bucking Bulls)
Elizmar Jeremias vs. JAG Metals Hard Way (Paige Stout Bucking Bulls/Phillip Elkins)
Sandro Batista vs. Hunting Trip (Dozier Cattle Co/Martinez Bucking Bulls)
Casey Roberts vs. Exodus (Jane Clark/Gene Owen)
Flavio Zivieri vs. Stone Cold Gangster Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell)
Briggs Madsen vs. Do Dat Eddie (Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell)
Boudreaux Campbell vs. Commander (Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell)
Derek Kolbaba vs. Bomb Diggity (Davis Rodeo Ranch)
CAROLINA RIDER TO WATCH: Ranked No. 8 coming out of the 2023 World Finals: Unleash The Beast, Carolina’s Boudreaux Campbell hasn’t been much of himself lately as he continues to trend toward better health. Just 1-for-3 on the season, his lone qualified ride came on Aug. 5 in Kansas City (84.75 points atop Homeboy) as he helped his Carolina Cowboys to a win over the Nashville Stampede. Head Coach Jerome Davis wouldn’t have one of his many stars inserted into the lineup if he wasn’t ready to ride, so fans should keep an eye out for Campbell Friday night when he enters the chutes atop Commander.
OKLAHOMA RIDER TO WATCH: Continuing to give this year’s rookie class a good vibe, Elizmar Jeremias has started the year 3-for-6 as the team’s current leader in qualified rides. But, if the Freedom want to make a run in Las Vegas this fall, they’ll need a healthy Casey Roberts, who made his 2023 debut last weekend in Anaheim, to improve on his 5-for-25 slate one summer ago. While the 21-year-old was dispatched in 4.12 seconds during his first attempt of the season, he’s got a shot turn things around Friday during his matchup with Exodus. If he’s able to last 8 seconds atop the rowdy bovine, it will mark the first time the animal athlete has surrendered a qualified ride, making this a huge out for both sides of the battle.
Arizona Ridge Riders (0-7) vs. Austin Gamblers (7-0)
*Eduardo Aparecido vs. Mike’s Motive (Blake Sharp/High Voltage/Wetzel/Knott)
Dalton Kasel vs. Train Station (Cornwell Bucking Bulls)
*Chase Dougherty vs. Norse God (Jane Clark/Gene Owens)
Rafael Henrique dos Santos vs. Red Wing (Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell)
Vitor Losnake vs. Pelican Punch (Davis Rodeo Ranch)
Lucas Divino vs. Blazer (Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell)
Colten Fritzlan vs. American Valor (Ryan and Rick Mitchell/McCoy Rodeo)
Austin Richardson vs. American You (Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell)
Davi Henrique de Lima vs. Roc Wit It (K-C Bucking Bulls/McCoy Rodeo)
*Jose Vitor Leme vs. Wild Card (Ryan and Rick Mitchell/McCoy Rodeo)
Chase Dougherty vs. Norse God (5.36 seconds in Fort Worth, Texas)
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Mike’s Motive (91 points in Kansas City, Missouri; 4.25 seconds in Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Jose Vitor Leme vs. Wild Card (88.5 points in Fort Worth, Texas; 90 points in Louisville, Kentucky)
ARIZONA RIDER TO WATCH: Arizona may be 0-7 heading into a showdown with the league’s No. 1 team, but if anyone is poised to help get the Ridge Riders a win, it’s Vitor Losnake. Ranked No. 8 overall in the MVP standings entering the fourth event of the season, the 19-year-old has turned in a 3-for-5 effort so far, including an 85.5-point strike last weekend atop Bruisin’, as he continues to lead the charge for Arizona. A member of last year’s runner-up squad at the 2022 PBR Teams Championship, Losnake has experienced a taste of success, but will need to keep riding as his team figures out the rest, beginning Friday night with a matchup against Pelican Punch.
AUSTIN RIDER TO WATCH: The default answer here again is Jose Vitor Leme. Firstly, because he’s 8-for-9 on the season, and secondly, because he’s already 2-0 aboard his Friday night opponent, Wild Card. But in the name of spreading the love, Lucas Divino deserves the spotlight for the Austin Gamblers as the 29-year-old brings a two-out ride streak into Stampede Days. Nicknamed “Jolly” by Head Coach Michael Gaffney, Divino may be all smiles in the locker room and a great teammate, but when it comes to riding bulls, he couldn’t be more serious. Exiting matchups last weekend against Taylor’s Cowtown Throwdown (88.25 points) and Cherry Bomb (83.75 points) in the win column, and will now look to help his Gamblers squad defend its league-best 7-0 record inside by making it three straight dancing with Blazer, who’s enjoying a nine-out rideless streak of his own.
Missouri Thunder (2-5) vs. Nashville Stampede (0-7)
Luke Parkinson vs. High Plains Drifter (Flying C/Tom Baker)
Alan de Souza vs. Yellowknife (Blake Sharp/Michael Floyd)
*Manoelito de Souza Junior vs. Ninja Cowboy (Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell)
Bruno Carvalho vs. Kunuckle Head (K Bar C Bucking Bulls/TCB Ranch)
Eduardo Matos vs. Doze You Down (Martinez Bucking Bulls, LLC)
Kaiden Loud vs. Blacklist (Paige Stout Bucking Bulls)
Felipe Furlan vs. Sly (K-C Bucking Bulls/RD Cattle)
Matt Triplett vs. Punchy Pete (Wentz Bucking Bulls/Gene Owens)
Kade Madsen vs. Moonlight Party (Jane Clark/Gene Owen)
Silvano Alves vs. Wicked Ways (Mike Miller Bucking Bulls)
Manoelito de Souza Junior vs. Ninja Cowboy (5.16 seconds in Nashville, Tennessee)
MISSOURI RIDER TO WATCH: Ranked No. 3 overall in the Challenger Global standings, youngster Kade Madsen has proven he has what it takes to compete with the best in the world. Posting an electric 88.5-point go atop Ah Hell last weekend out west was simply a reminder to coaches Luke Snyder and Ross Coleman, who selected the talented rider during the 2023 PBR Teams Draft. Set to dance with Moonlight Party as the team’s closer Friday, will he be able to help the Thunder steal one from the Stampede?
NASHVILLE RIDER TO WATCH: Whether you are part of the crowd inside Bridgestone Arena or watching afar as the defending PBR Teams Champion Nashville Stampede make their return to Broadway for the first time since capturing the world largest gold buckle, the entire Stampede are going to be worth watching this weekend. Rookie Bruno Carvalho has been a welcomed addition to the blue and yellow squad, but it’s been three-time World Champion Silvano Alves who’s provided the most energy, and conversions, for the Stampede so far. Able to cover three of his last four opponents, the living legend will look to put on a show for the hometown audience when he climbs aboard Wicked Ways, who’s set to buck in his PBR Camping World Team Series debut Friday.
This weekend’s showdown in Nashville, Tennessee, is set to begin Friday, Aug. 18 at 7:45 p.m. CDT as the Kansas City Outlaws and Texas Rattlers get the three-day showcase started inside Honda Center. With competition set to resume Saturday, Aug. 19 at 6:45 p.m. CDT, the second of eight homestand events will conclude Sunday, Aug. 20 at 1:45 p.m. CDT inside Bridgestone Arena.
Fans can tune into RidePass on Pluto TV Friday, Aug. 18 beginning at 7:45 p.m. CDT for the opening four games live, while the Missouri Thunder vs. Oklahoma Freedom, Austin Gamblers vs. Carolina Cowboys and Texas Rattlers vs. Arizona Ridge Riders games are set to air beginning at 6:45 p.m. CDT on RidePass on Pluto TV. This week’s “Game of the Week” between the Nashville Stampede and Kansas City Outlaws will air on CBS Television Network on Sunday, Aug. 19 at 11 a.m., while fans can tune into CBS Sports Network on Sunday, Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. CDT for all of this weekend’s Championship Sunday action.
Fans can keep an eye on PBR.com and PBR social media channels for the latest news, scores, wrecks and more!
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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