Coming into this weekend's Built Ford Tough Series event, in Tulsa, Okla., Valdiron de Oliveira holds a 632 point advantage over L.J. Jenkins atop the world standings.
In 18 events Oliviera is averaging 456.5 points per event compared to Jenkins, who is averaging 399 points in the 19 events he's ridden in. If that trend continues Oliviera could extend that lead to 1,149.5 points heading into the weeklong World Finals at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
However, on a week-to-week basis, Jenkins has been the most consistent rider on the BFTS, having earned eight consecutive Top 10 finishes and nine in the past 10 events leading into the summertime break.
Jenkins could also be the benefit of youthful durability down the stretch.
He's only 25 years old compared to Oliveira, who turned 33 during the break.
Two riders who could very well improve their position are J.B. Mauney and Fabiano Vieira.
Mauney, who has battled one injury after another for much of his seven-year career, broke a bone in his left riding hand and was forced to switch hands for three of the past six events leading up to the summer break.
The 25-year-old North Carolina native covered three bulls during that span--two of which were for double points in the 15/15 Bucking Battle--and despite slipping from first to fifth in the standings, would have been further down had not tried switching to his right hand.
He is healthy and covered four of five bulls recently at the Calgary Stampede along with one of three bulls last weekend at a Touring Pro Division event in Molalla, Ore.
Vieira has been competing all summer down in Brazil.
His 13 BFTS events is the lowest total in the Top 15, but his average of 388.5 points per event is the fourth highest among the Top 10 riders in the world.
He missed more than a month at the opening of the 2012 season due to issues with his visa that have since been resolved and he promises to be more focused for the remaining three months.
Vieira finished fifth a year ago and is poised to do so again this year.
Head to Head: For only the second time this season the top two bulls in the world--Asteroid and reigning World Champion Bull Bushwacker--will go head to head in the same BFTS event. They last competed against one another in Arlington, Texas, at the Iron Cowboy Invitational. Bushwacker won that battle with 46 points to Asteroid's 45.
They met seven times a year ago. Bushwacker outscored Asteroid in four of the seven meetings, including twice in Las Vegas at the World Finals to win the title. However, this year Asteroid has been impressive all season long, while Bushwacker has battled through injuries.
Asteroid extended his streak of consecutive buckoffs to 15 and improved to 10-0, in 2012, when he dispatched Luke Snyder in 1.88 seconds in the PBR 15/15 Bucking Battle in Pueblo, Colo. Last year's runner-up has the two highest scores and six of the Top 10 bull scores this season.
Bushwacker had bone chips removed from both back legs in January of this year and missed his last event, in Pueblo, with a swollen back right hock. He has bucked off 42 consecutive riders and recorded 10 scores of 47 points or higher, including a career-best 48.5 points in Round 3 of last year's Finals.
Let's go Streaking: Jenkins has finished in the Top 10 in his last eight events, dating back to a third-place finish in Albuquerque, N.M., in late March. The record for consecutive Top 10 finishes is nine, which was set by Ednei Caminhas in 2002.
Jenkins streak began with a third-place finish in Albuquerque, N.M., in late March, followed by a win in Kansas City, Mo. He had back-to-back third-place finishes in Indianapolis and Des Moines, Iowa, in April, and entered the break with a second-place finish in Pueblo.
Like Jenkins, Caminhas' streak extended over the summer break. In the last 10 events, Jenkins has finished in the Top 10 nine times. Two-time World Champion Chris Shivers, who will retire from the sport following the 2012 season, had a streak of seven Top 10 finishes in a row back in 2000.
In & Out: Douglas Duncan underwent successful hip surgery at the onset of the summer break from the BFTS with the intention of returning to competition in Tulsa. The Texas native was originally listed in the 37-man draw for the Express Classic, but was replaced by Cody Campbell when doctors elected not to medically release him in time for this weekend's BFTS event.
Nathan Schapper was another rider originally listed in the draw for this weekend's event, but will not compete due to injury. He'll be replaced by Jory Markiss. The 21-year-old Schapper tore a biceps muscle this past spring.
Lighting up the judges' score cards: Two-time Stock Contractor of the Year Jeff Robinson announced this week that Rango will now be known as Lightmaker.com Rango. He's had 16 outs in the PBR this year--three of which were at TPD events--and been ridden only twice. Eight times he's been marked 45 points or higher, including his past four outings. Lightmaker.com Rango was last marked 47 points at a TPD event in Asheville, N.C., when he bucked off Skeeter Kingsolver.
Back in Action: Following its annual summer hiatus, the BFTS returns to Tulsa for the eighth year in a row with the Express Classic presented by WinStar World Casino at the BOK Center.
Twice in the last three years the winner of this event has gone on to win the World Championship with Renato Nunes doing it, in 2010, and Kody Lostroh a year earlier, in 2009. The Tulsa champion in 2007 was three-time PBR World Champion Adriano Moraes, while two-time Champion Justin McBride won in 2008.
Here is a complete list of winners in Tulsa: Vieira (2011), Nunes (2010), Lostroh (2009), McBride (2008), Moraes (2007), Kasey Hayes (2006) and Edgard Oliveira (2005)
For only the second time this season the top two bulls in the world--Asteroid and reigning World Champion Bull Bushwacker--will go head to head in the same BFTS event.
TV Guide: CBS Sports Network will broadcast action from Round 1 and the first short round at 10 p.m. ET on Fri., Aug. 10, and will have an encore airing at 1 a.m. ET on Sat., Aug. 11.
Round 3 and the Built Ford Tough Championship Round will be broadcast live, on Sat., Aug. 11, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
Veteran broadcaster Craig Hummer will provide the play-by-play. Color commentary will be provided by PBR Ring of Honor member J.W. Hart, and dirt-level interviews will be handled by Leah Garcia.
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