BILLINGS, Mont. ― Joao Ricardo Vieira continues to put together what could ― before it's all said and done ― become one of the best rookie seasons in PBR history.
Vieira, who separated his right shoulder AC joint when he was thrown hard from his second round bull on Saturday night, won his second consecutive Built Ford Tough Series event.
Two weeks after claiming his first career win in Albuquerque, N.M., he won the Stanley Make Something Great Invitational in Billings, Mont., when covered Yellow Jacket Jr. for 89.5 points to win the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
It's his second final-round win and he trails only Shane Proctor, who's won three.
Vieira also joins Proctor, who reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in the world standings, and Marco Eguchi has the only two-time event winners this year. The trio account for six of 13 BFTS wins.
Despite competing in only eight of 13 events, the rookie from Brazil qualified for his third-straight final round and has yet to go a weekend without earning at least one qualified ride. This week he was 3-for-4 and has ridden seven of his last 10.
According to www.probullstats.com, Vieira is statistically the top-ranked rider in the PBR power rankings, which takes various factors from the past five BFTS events into account.
His 53.85 percent is the highest riding average among the top riders in the world.
Aside from vaulting to sixth in the world standings in the past two events, he's now the top-ranked first-year rider this season. He's now nearly 500 points ahead of Eduardo Aparecido after trailing the Brazilian newcomer since making their BFTS debuts earlier this year.
In spite of the dominating success of Brazilians, Vieira is only the third South American to win the 18 events that have been held in Billings. Valdiron de Oliveira won in 2011, while Rogerio Ferreira won in 1998.
In addition to his pair of recent BFTS wins, Vieira also won a Touring Pro Division event in Wichita Falls, Texas, back in January prior to making his BFTS debut in Oklahoma City.
INJURY UPDATE: According to an injury update sent from Dr. Tandy Freeman, J.B. Mauney sustained a concussion and abdominal abrasions when he was stepped on after being thrown from his bull in the championship round. He is listed as probable for next week's BFTS event in Louisville, Ky.
Marcus Mariluch, who was competing as an alternate after winning a TPD event in Texarkana, Ark., last weekend, broke his left forearm (ulna, free arm) when he was hit by the bull's horn while hung up as he was thrown off in the championship round. He will require surgery and is expected to be out of competition for 2-to-6 weeks.
Guilherme Marchi did not compete in the championship round, in Billings, Mont., because of a bruised chest sustained in Round 2. He is probable for Louisville and so too is Eguchi, who sustained a bruised left thigh when he was stepped on after being thrown from his third round bull.
Kody Lostroh missed the third round because of persistent symptoms of a concussion and a neck injury sustained in Round 2, on Saturday night. Lostroh landed on his head when he was thrown from his second round bull and also missed competing in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Emilio Resende also missed the third round due to a lacerated right leg, which was sutured in the training room, sustained when he unintentionally spurred himself after being thrown from his second round bull. He is probable for Louisville.
Austin Meier finished the final two days of the event with a bruised right thigh sustained when he was stepped on after being thrown from his first round bull in Billings. Fabiano Vieira strained his neck in the opening round when he was hit by the bull. Both riders were able to finish the event.
According to Freeman's pre-event injury list Mike Lee competed with a sprained right sacroiliac joint. Chase Outlaw had a sprained right ankle. Zack Brown competed with a left knee sprain.
Lachlan Richardson competed with a broken bone in his left hand (free hand index metacarpal) sustained in Albuquerque, N.M., while Sean Willingham competed with a left costochondral sprain sustained when he was hit by a bull's horn in Albuquerque. Reese Cates has a bruised right (riding) hand sustained when he was stepped on in Albuquerque.
Lostroh was originally listed as competing with a sprained thumb of his riding hand prior to his latest injury.
FERRIERA'S FUTURE: A familiar face was missing from this week's draw in Billings. Edevaldo Ferriera, who was ranked 33rd in the world standings coming into this past weekend and would have been an alternate, returned home to Brazil during the Easter break from the BFTS and did not return to the U.S.
According to his fellow Brazilian riders, Ferreira does not plan to return in the immediate future, but is not ruling out a return at a later date.
In recent weeks, Ferreira, who is married and the father of one child, had expressed the emotional toll it had taken on him being separated from his young family. The strain had reached a crescendo and had began affecting the reigning two-time Brazilian champion, who hadn't recorded a Top 10 finish in the past seven BFTS events, including two he missed.
Last fall, Ferreira expressed concern with living up to the pressure associated with having won in Brazil and needing to prove his mettle as one of the best in the world.
He eventually made the transition from Brazilian-raised bulls to American bulls, but the language barrier, cultural differences and the distance between he and his family proved to be too much despite competing on the BFTS being a lifelong dream of his.
LEARN FROM THE BEST: Recently retired PBR fan-favorite Wiley Petersen will be holding a bull riding clinic in Westcliffe, Colo., on May 4 and 5. The clinic is for junior riders ages 12 and up and requires an entry fee of $350. According to Petersen, he will cover ground work and then focus on one-on-one instruction at the two-day clinic. For more information and to enroll, visit www.bullridercoach.com. In his PBR career, Petersen accumulated 13 event wins, including the 2007 World Finals event.
THIS AND THAT: It's the time of year when bulls are shedding their winter coats and large, noticeable clumps of hair are getting into the rosin and filling the air. Although some might think the hair makes bull ropes slicker than normal, according to bullfighter Shorty Gorham and TV broadcaster J.W. Hart, such is not the case. Gorham said it's actually nothing more than a nuisance they deal with in the arena.
Zack Brown, who recently got married while in Australia and is expecting his first child later this season, was sporting some unusual cowboy boots. Brown took the tread from some mountain bike tires and attached them to the inside of the upper portion of his boots and then tucked his pants in this week. Brown said he wasn't having any problems, but simply thought it was a good idea. Many wonder if the inventive decision to glue and stitch the knobby treads to his boots will actually help keep him from losing his feet out from behind him. He was 0-for-2 in the event.
In other news involving gear, Eguchi wore a helmet for the first time in his professional career since arriving in the U.S. He rode 1-of-3 bulls this weekend. After the first round, he admitted that he lost track of where he was the first time his head looked up, but was able to regain a sense of direction by the 8-second mark and earned 87.5 points on I'm Back to open the event.
Next week's event will take place in Louisville, Ky., at the KFC Yum! Center, where the Louisville Cardinals play their home games. The University of Louisville is in Monday night's NCAA men's basketball National Championship game along with Syracuse. And the women's team will do the same on Tuesday night. This will be the PBR's first event in the newly opened facility. The Bass Pro Chute Out will be held on May 4 and 5.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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