By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Jose Vitor Leme and Chiseled may be one step closer to a World Championship following this weekend’s PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Bass Pro Shops, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with two of their biggest challengers taking the weekend off.
Leme heads into the PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Bass Pro Shops, with a commanding 569.09-point lead on No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira, while he also leads No. 3 Daylon Swearingen, No. 4 Kaique Pacheco and No. 5 Jess Lockwood by more than 740 points.
There are three Unleash The Beast regular-season events remaining before the PBR invades AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the 2020 PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast on Nov. 12-15.
Leme – the No. 1-ranked bull rider in the world – has been on a tear for the majority of 2020, and now Lockwood, the man who was able to usurp Leme last year at the PBR World Finals despite a massive gap in the world standings, is out of competition this weekend because of a right shoulder injury. Lockwood said he would get an MRI on his shoulder next week.
Therefore, Leme’s biggest challenger this week will be Vieira.
Leme has drawn Dodge 6117 (0-0, UTB) for Round 1, and Vieira will face Little Joe (2-0, UTB).
Fans can watch all the action Saturday night live on RidePass beginning at 7:45 p.m. ET.
Meanwhile, Chiseled takes a slim .03-point lead atop the 2020 YETI World Champion Bull standings into the BOK Center with No. 2 bull and 2019 YETI World Champion Smooth Operator having the weekend off, along with all of Chad Berger’s premier series bulls.
Chiseled failed to increase his World Champion Bull contender-leading average (46.06) last weekend when he was scored 44.25 points when Eduardo Aparecido rode him for 90.5 points. The 2019 ABBI Classic Champion will highlight Sunday’s championship round, and he will need a bull score of 45.75 points or higher to increase his average.
The 2020 YETI World Champion Bull will be the animal with the highest average bull score from their top eight regular-season outs and two outs at the PBR World Finals.
World No. 4 Hocus Pocus and No. 5 I’m Legit Too are bucking in the championship round as well on Sunday. Three-time World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser was the high-marked bull in Lincoln with a 45.75-point score, and he will also be in the championship round.
All the action on Championship Sunday airs at 3 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network and at 2:45 p.m. ET on RidePass.
SWEARINGEN TO TRY AND GAIN GROUND IN CASPER FRIDAY NIGHT
Daylon Swearingen’s second-place finish in Lincoln, which was highlighted by a wild 88-point ride on SweetPro’s Bruiser, has him up to No. 3 in the world title race. Swearingen is still 733.34 points behind Leme, and he needs every point possible to try to get closer to the world No. 1 rider.
Therefore, Swearingen will head to Casper, Wyoming, on Friday night to ride at the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event before heading south to Tulsa on Saturday morning.
Swearingen is 50th in the Velocity Tour standings, and he will try to get closer to the Top 35 in the PWVT standings so he can qualify for the Velocity Tour Finals in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Nov. 6-7.
The 21-year-old has drawn Smoke Train (0-0) for Round 1.
All of the Velocity Tour action can be seen exclusively on RidePass beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET Friday.
WHO’S IN & OUT THIS WEEKEND IN TULSA
This weekend’s event at the BOK Center is optional for all bull riders, and the PBR has invited 36 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.
Riders inside the Top 35 that are not competing this weekend
No. 5 Jess Lockwood (right shoulder)
No. 9 Dener Barbosa (broken jaw)
No. 15 Fabiano Vieira (severe head injury)
No. 20 Matt Triplett (groin)
No. 27 Aaron Kleier (in Australia)
No. 29 Dakota Buttar (in Canada)
No. 30 Lachlan Richardson (in Australia)
No. 31 Tye Chandler (hip surgery)
Alternates this weekend
No. 37 Marcus Mast (-6 points behind No. 35 Amadeu Campos)
No. 38 J.B. Mauney (-6.16 points)
No. 39 Silvano Alves (-6.66 points)
No. 40 Junior Patrik Souza (-7.16 points)
No. 41 Paulo Lima (-11.66 points)
No. 42 Rafael Henrique dos Santos (-12.66 points)
Alves, Souza, Lima and Santos are all entered in the Friday night Casper Velocity Tour event as they try to work themselves back into the Top 35.
Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour invites
No. 47 Wallace de Oliveira will once again be the fourth-oldest rider to compete on the premier series this weekend. The 41-year-old earned an invite to Tulsa by winning one of the Casper, Wyoming, Velocity Tour events last weekend. Venn Johns set the PBR record earlier this season by competing in Guthrie, Oklahoma, at 45 years old.
Oliveira went 2-for-2 to win the first Casper event with 85.5 points on Life to Go and 88.5 points on Uncle Gangster to earn the opportunity to compete in Tulsa.
The Goiania, Brazil native is currently 28.5 points outside of the Top 35. He would become the oldest rider to ever qualify for the World Finals if he can find a way up the rankings during the final month of the season.
Oliveira has drawn Top Shelf (6-1, UTB) on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, No. 56 Kyler Oliver is set to make his premier series debut following his victory at the second Casper event last weekend. Oliver won the event with 86.5 points on Quid Pro Quo and 87 points on Omaha Beach.
The 21-year-old from Roy, Utah, is 6-for-16 in nine events at all level of competition in 2020. Oliver competed not only as a bull rider in high school against 2019 PRCA All-Around champion Stetson Wright, but also in saddle bronc riding.
Oliver has drawn Painted Demon (0-0, UTB) for Round 1.
Oliveira and Oliver are also competing in Casper this Friday night.
Nance back for World Finals push
Eleven-time PBR World Finals qualifier Cody Nance is competing for the first time in two weeks, and he has some work to do to keep his World Finals streak alive.
Nance is No. 114 in the world and 91.5 points behind the Top 35 after missing the first half of the season because of nerve damage in his shoulder. The Paris, Tennessee, native is 2-for-13 on the Unleash The Beast and he will look to end a streak of five consecutive buckoffs when he takes on Party Star (0-0, UTB) Saturday night.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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