By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The race to qualify for the 2020 PBR World Finals is only going to become more intense as the final Unleash The Beast events count down.
This weekend’s PBR Lucas Oil Invitational in Des Moines, Iowa, is one of five regular-season UTB events remaining, and there is also a series of Touring Pro Division and Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour events coming up in the next few weeks that may impact the world standings.
Therefore, there will be a continuous focus on the race to get inside the Top 35 and qualify for the World Finals. Officially, three-time World Champion Silvano Alves is hanging onto the No. 35 world ranking with 98 world points heading into Iowa.
However, the PBR will drop potentially three spots further down in the world standings when it comes to the final 35 riders that make it to the Finals because of No. 13 Fabiano Vieira’s severe head injury and No. 28 Dakota Buttar and No. 32 Lachlan Richardson being ineligible for Top 35 qualifier positions. Buttar and Richardson are ineligible after turning down a seeded spot on the Unleash The Beast earlier this season, but both can still qualify for World Finals via the Velocity Tour Finals. Buttar and Richardson could also fall out of the Top 35 between now and the Finals.
Alves has qualified for nine consecutive World Finals since winning the 2010 Rookie of the Year award, but he was unable to compete last season because of a ruptured kidney. The 32-year-old has drawn One for the Money (0-1, UTB) for Round 1 on Saturday night. Alves leads No. 39 Jake Lockwood by 10.84 points in the world standings. He is 1-for-10 since the second half resumed in August, and he has not earned any world points since a TPD event on July 10 in Shipshewana, Indiana. He is also only six points out of the No. 32 ranking.
Lockwood is one of nine riders below the No. 35 cutline competing in Des Moines who are in the hunt for their first World Finals qualifications. No. 37 Cody Casper, No. 42 Marcus Mast, No. 53 Junio Patrik Souza, No. 55 Keith Hall, No. 59 Grayson Cole, No. 60 Kyle Jones, No. 65 Tyler Werner, No. 67 Javier Garcia and No. 68 Eli Vastbinder all are looking to jump up the standings this weekend.
Lockwood has drawn Crossover (6-2, UTB/METC) for Round 1.
WHO’S IN/OUT THIS WEEKEND
This weekend’s event at Wells Fargo Arena is optional for all bull riders, and the PBR has invited 35 riders to compete. The first 30 draw spots were filled based on the 2020 world standings. Riders with World Champion exemptions, riders with guaranteed event exemptions or riders with approved injury exemptions filled remaining spots. The remaining draw spots were then filled based on the current season’s world standings.
World leader Jose Vitor Leme is one of 15 riders inside the Top 35 that will not be competing this weekend. Leme explained on his Instagram account why he will not be in Des Moines this weekend.
View this post on Instagram
Venho através deste comunicado informar a todos que neste final de semana eu não estarei participando do evento da PBR que acontecerá em Des Moines, IA. Motivo pelo qual tive contato com uma pessoa que testou positivo para o COVID19 e por conta disso não poderei competir neste evento, meu exame apontou resultado NEGATIVO para o COVID19 porém por conta dos protocolos assim seguidos pela PBR foi tomada essa decisão pela entidade e eu como atleta profissional respeito a decisão tomada. Obrigado pelo apoio e carinho de todos vocês, em breve estarei retornando as arenas no evento de Lincoln, NE nos dias 3-4 de outubro. #becowboy
Riders inside the Top 35 that are not competing this weekend
No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme (not cleared to compete)
No. 4 Lucas Divino (not cleared to compete)
No. 6 Daylon Swearingen (not cleared to compete)
No. 8 Dener Barbosa (broken jaw)
No. 10 Cole Melancon (not cleared to compete)
No. 13 Fabiano Vieira (head injury)
No. 17 Matt Triplett (groin)
No. 21 Marco Eguchi (not cleared to compete)
No. 24 Stetson Lawrence (knee)
No. 26 Joao Henrique Lucas (not cleared to compete)
No. 27 Aaron Kleier (in Australia)
No. 28 Dakota Buttar (in Canada)
No. 30 Tye Chandler (hip surgery)
No. 31 Ryan Dirteater (broken collarbone)
No. 32 Lachlan Richardson (in Australia)
Alternates this weekend
No. 36 Taylor Toves (-1.5 points behind No. 35 Alves)
No. 37 Cody Casper (-9 points)
No. 39 Jake Lockwood (-10.84 points)
No. 41 Paulo Lima (-15.5 points)
No. 42 Marcus Mast (-18.34 points)
No. 53 Junio Patrik Souza (-50.5 points)
No. 55 Keith Hall (-51.5 points)
No. 59 Grayson Cole (-56.5 points)
No. 60 Kyle Jones (-57.67 points)
No. 61 Wallace de Oliveira (-59.84 points)
No. 65 Tyler Werner (-67 points)
No. 66 Gage Gay (-69 points
No. 67 Javier Garcia (-69.17 points)
No. 68 Eli Vastbinder (-69.5 points)
Taylor Toves qualified for his second World Finals last season, and the 27-year-old has been mired in a streak of 17 consecutive buckoffs on the Unleash The Beast dating back to April 25. Toves, though, won a jackpot bull riding this week and that success should give him a better level of confidence for Des Moines as he tries to flip the switch in the right direction.
The Stephenville, Texas, native has drawn Off The Chain (4-0, UTB) for Round 1. Off The Chain bucked Toves off in 2.89 seconds at the season-opener in New York City.
Meanwhile, Marcus Mast actually intended to ride last weekend in Billings when he was informed there was a last-minute draw spot available for him 24 hours before the three-day event. Unfortunately, Mast was unable to find a flight or a way to make it to Billings in time for the event.
The Middlebury, Indiana, bull rider had injured his right ankle in the bucking chutes in Fort Worth, Texas, on Aug. 30. Mast did get X-rays, but said his ankle was not broken when King Richard twisted his ankle before the championship round.
“It’s good,” Mast said. “They said it looks like it was actually broken before and I have a couple bone spurs on it, but this time was just a hard sprain. I would have been in Billings, but I didn’t get the call until Thursday night and couldn’t get a flight to get me there early enough.”
Riders competing via exemption
No. 98 J.B. Mauney (-81.5)
Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney continues to try to work his way back into the Top 35 so that he can qualify for a 15th consecutive World Finals.
Mauney is 2-for-12 since returning from reconstructive right shoulder surgery that kept him out for seven months. He has earned 16.5 world points in five events, but he has only gained 3.16 points on the Top 35 so far.
The 33-year-old has drawn Poncho Villa (7-2, UTB) for Round 1.
WORLD NO. 2 VIEIRA LOOKS TO GAIN GROUND
Joao Ricardo Vieira will attempt to cut into Leme’s 593.09-point lead on him in the world standings with the world No. 1 on the sidelines.
Vieira has drawn Skull Crusher (0-0, UTB) for Round 1 before taking on South Texas Gangster (27-11, UTB) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Round 1 Rematches
World No. 5 Kaique Pacheco highlights riders with a rematch in Round 1. The 2018 World Champion will face Peep Show after receiving a re-ride with the bull in Manchester, New Hampshire, following a 6.34-second buckoff.
Pacheco vs. Peep Show (6.34 seconds in Manchester)
Brennon Eldred vs. Proctors Pride (2.97 seconds last year in Little Rock, Arkansas)
Kyle Jones vs. Gubber (2.4 seconds last year in Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Taylor Toves vs. Off The Chain (2.89 seconds in New York)
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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