By: Justin Felisko
CHICAGO – Joao Ricardo Vieira’s stint as the world No. 1 bull rider did not even last a full week before Kaique Pacheco walked out of Allstate Arena on Sunday evening following the Chicago Invitational as the new top man in the standings.
Vieira, though, is well-prepared for the 2020 world title race, and brushed off any talk this weekend about him finally being No. 1 in the world for the first time in four seasons. The 35-year-old knows the season is only beginning, and there are still 10 months to go until a World Champion is crowned on Nov. 4-8 at the 2020 PBR World Finals.
“I want to stay No. 1, but this is just the start of the season,” Vieira said. “This does not mean nothing. You can be No. 1 or No. 30. It is the same.”
Vieira dropped to No. 2 in the world standings following a 1-for-3 showing at the Chicago Invitational. Buckeye Bill bucked off the 2013 Rookie of the Year in 4.02 seconds in Round 1 Saturday night before Vieira rebounded with an 87-point effort on Gangster Time in Round 2 Sunday.
However, Vieira could not conquer Old Fort Days, and the K-Bar-C Bucking Bulls bovine athlete downed him in 3.66 seconds.
Vieira does not have to wait long to try to get back on track.
Vieira had an early morning flight booked out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport to head to Denver for the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Denver PBR Chute Out at the National Western Stock Show this week.
The Denver PBR Chute Out takes place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Round 1 is split over the course of Monday and Tuesday with the Top 30 riders qualifying for Round 2 on Wednesday. The Top 15 riders in following the first two rounds then advance to the championship round.
Fans can watch all of the action from Denver live on RidePass beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
One rider can earn a maximum of 51 points toward the world standings.
Vieira has drawn The Colonel (0-2, all levels) for Round 1 on Monday night. He is 30.5 points behind Pacheco in the world standings. Pacheco is not competing in Denver.
“You need practice sometimes,” Vieira said. “The Unleash The Beast is just the weekends, and during the week you need to practice or train. Denver is good for this. You can get on good bulls and practice.”
Vieira also wants to keep building momentum ahead of the next Unleash The Beast event – the Manchester Invitational – next weekend in New Hampshire. It is the first time a premier series event has been held in Manchester, and first PBR event since a Touring Pro Division event on June 27, 2009, that was won by Sean Willingham.
“You need to start good to stay in the front,” Vieira said. “All the years (of my career) I did not start good. It would take three or four events, and then I start riding better. This year I want to start better.”
Last year, Vieira won the third and fourth Unleash The Beast events of the season (Glendale, Arizona, and Sacramento, California).
Vieira also admitted this week will be somber at times with the PBR returning to Denver a year following the passing of Mason Lowe at the National Western Stock Show. Wednesday is the official one-year anniversary of Lowe’s death following injuries sustained in the arena.
“Yeah, it will be hard, but life continues,” Vieira said. “You need to keep going, and I don’t know how I will feel inside the arena, but I will be there. I know Mason would want us to ride good.”
SWEARINGEN & LEME TO RIDE IN DENVER ON TUESDAY
Chicago event winner Daylon Swearingen is not going to rest on his laurels following his first Unleash The Beast victory. The 20-year-old will head to Denver Tuesday morning to ride in the Velocity event as well.
“I think (Mason) wants us to go there and ride bulls, because that’s what he was there doing, and he loved it, so why don’t we all go there and just ride all the bulls we can?” Swearingen said. “And I feel like that would make him smile.”
Swearingen met Lowe a year or two ago before at a Velocity Tour event, and considered him a rider he admired during his teenage years.
“He was definitely someone I looked up to because he had a lot of big rides, and he would kick loose and get around there, too,” Swearingen said.
Swearingen has drawn Zorro (9-1, all levels) for Round 1 Tuesday, and he too could leave Denver as the new world No. 1 bull rider. Swearingen’s 3-for-3 win at the Chicago Invitational has him sitting third in the world standings, 42.34 points behind Pacheco.
Swearingen’s 91.75-point ride on Big Black Sunday led to him winning the event, but also splitting the championship round win with Jose Vitor Leme.
Leme rode Smooth Wreck – the runner-up to Smooth Operator in the 2019 YETI World Champion Bull race – in the championship round Sunday for his first 90-point ride of the season.
It was a matchup that was a long time coming for Leme.
“I’ve wanted this matchup for a long time,” Leme said. “Maybe for a year and a half. Chase (Outlaw) rides really good on him. He looks good, this bull. I wait for this matchup for a long time.”
Leme heads to Denver sixth in the world standings, 137.50 points out of the world No. 1 ranking.
The 23-year-old has drawn Skeeter Peeter (5-2, all levels) for Tuesday night.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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