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Behind the Chutes
Leme remains confident after Round 2 slap opens door for Lockwood in title race
Leme remains confident after Round 2 slap opens door for Lockwood in title race

LAS VEGAS – Danny Boy did exactly what world leader Jose Vitor Leme expected during Round 2 of the 2019 PBR World Finals on Thursday night.

The problem for Leme was his free arm did not do as he would have liked when Danny Boy turned away from his riding hand.

Leme wound up slapping Danny Boy at 1.9 seconds inside T-Mobile Arena, thickening the plot for the 2019 World Championship race.

World Finals

The world leader’s buckoff came minutes after No. 2 Jess Lockwood dominated Spotted Demon away from his hand for a 91.5-point ride and his second consecutive ride to begin the Finals.

“I don’t know what happened,” Leme said. “He was away from my hand, and he has no qualified rides (in his career). He is really difficult, but I do not know what happened. He is this every time, and at six seconds he goes to the left. Today was not my day, but we have days we buck off and we have days with qualified rides. It is normal. I am healthy. I am happy. I just want to ride my bulls and finish in first place.”

Lockwood finished second in Round 2 for 180 world points, and he is sitting second overall in the event average behind Cody Teel. The 2012 PRCA champion bull rider rode SweetPro’s Bruiser for 91 points, and Teel leads Lockwood by 1.25 points in the average thanks to his 88.25-point Round 1 ride on Skeeter Peeter.

Leme will take a 609.16-point lead on Lockwood into Round 3 on Friday night.

Fans can watch Round 3 beginning at 11 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network and 9:40 p.m. ET on RidePass.

RidePass

If the season ended Thursday night, Lockwood would be the World Champion by a mere 85.84 points because of his projected finish in the event average (second) compared to Leme’s (10th).

However, there are still four rounds of action, as well as 2,700 world points available, before the season concludes on Sunday afternoon inside T-Mobile Arena.

“I am ready for tomorrow,” Leme said. “We have a long time. A lot of bulls. Four more rounds. It is not over right now. I am 600 points in the front. There is many points left. I hope my work pays off.”

Adding insult to injury for Leme was that his quick buckoff left him with the fourth-to-last pick for the Round 3 bull draft Thursday night.

The Round 3 draft was based on the results from Round 2.

RELATED: Round 3 daysheet

Leme said he was still happy with his selection – Birthday Cake – and was even surprised the bull was still available for him.

Birthday Cake is 6-1 on the Unleash The Beast. Ryan Dirteater rode Birthday Cake for 82.75 points in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, earlier this year.

The 5-year-old bull most recently bucked off 2020 Team Canada Global Cup rider Dakota Buttar in 4.59 seconds in Fairfax, Virginia. Birthday Cake put up back-to-back 44-point bull scores before his 42.25-point effort with Buttar. 

“He is out of the left, so I picked the bull,” Leme said. “I see videos of him to the left, and he is a good bull. I think I can still be 88, 89 points. I hope to ride him and make my points. He is a good bull. I am surprised he was there, but I am happy.”

Lockwood selected Biker Bob with the second pick of the draft – the same bull Leme had marked as his top selection before the start of Round 2.

The Volborg, Montana, bull rider won the Tulsa, Oklahoma, event to begin the second half of the season in August.

“It was a tossup,” Lockwood said. “My good buddy Chaston Lee had his bull Night Shift in there, but it is hard to not take Biker Bob. Night Shift hasn’t been around long. Chaston hasn’t owned him long. When he has, he has bucked. But Biker Bob has been around the last four years. Every time he is going to be there to the left and you are going to be anywhere from 90 to 92 on him. If you are a left-handed rider, you would be stupid not to pick him.”

OUTLAW’S HOME RUN SHOT COMES UP SHORT IN ROUND 2

No. 3 Chase Outlaw is 1,715.83 behind Leme in the world standings, and he is well aware of the fact that he needs to not only win the World Finals, but also place high in rounds if he hopes to overcome the deficit to win the world title.

Outlaw swung for the fences on Thursday night when he accepted a re-ride option following his 84.25-point ride on Magic Train. The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider was sitting third in the event average at the time that he gave the score up to take on Apper’s Mind Freak. Mind Freak then bucked Outlaw off in 4.1 seconds.

A frustrated Outlaw slumped over near the chutes where he got tossed before walking back to the locker room ticked off at his missed opportunity.

However, Outlaw is still in the mix, especially if he can run the table at T-Mobile Arena. That starts Friday with a matchup against Mason’s Missouri Golden (19-1, UTB).

No. 4 Joao Ricardo Vieira has started the World Finals 0-for-2, and his chances of winning a gold buckle at 35 years old are all about over. Vieira trails Leme by 2,571.66 points with only 2,700 points remaining to be earned.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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