PUEBLO, Colo. – When asking multiple PBR insiders about who some of the top surprises of the Built Ford Tough Series first half this year are, there is one rider that remains on nearly everyone’s list:
“Stormy Wing has been a rather, pleasant surprise,” two-time World Champion Justin McBride said. “Not that he has strung a whole pile of them together, but, man, he has made some really big rides and he has started to find some consistency.”
When talking “big-time rides,” you don’t have to go any further than Wing’s sensational 95.25-point ride on SweetPro’s Bruiser to win the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
That ride from Wing was the precursor to an impressive finish to the first half of the Built Ford Tough Series.
Following five straight buckoffs, which were partly caused by a calf injury, Wing then reeled off another victory in Tacoma, Washington, by going 3-for-3 with an 89-point ride on More Big Bucks.
Wing then won Round 1 of Last Cowboy Standing with 87.25 points on Captain Jack, propelling him to a third-place finish overall in Las Vegas.
The two event victories are a career-high for Wing, who began the season with only one BFTS victory in his career.
The 28-year-old is currently seventh in the world standings and has gone 12-for-40 (30 percent) in 15 Built Ford Tough Series events.
Wing is next slated to compete this coming weekend at the Dakota Community Bank PBR Bull Riding Challenge on Friday and Saturday in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Wing is one of 19 riders ranked inside the Top 35 scheduled to compete on June 16. Also competing are No. 3 Derek Kolbaba, No. 4 Jess Lockwood, No. 6 Chase Outlaw, No. 8 Matt Triplett, No. 10 Cooper Davis, No. 11 Mason Lowe, No. 12 Rubens Barbosa, No. 14 Cody Teel, No. 16 Marco Eguchi, No. 17 Cody Nance, No. 19 Fabiano Vieira, No. 26 Gage Gay, No. 27 Koal Livingston, No. 28 Dakota Buttar No. 31 Luis Blanco, No. 33 Cody Rodeo Tyler, No. 34 Brennon Eldred and No. 35 J.W. Harris.
Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney will also attempt to ride Pearl Harbor for $50,000.
Fans can watch the Bismarck event exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Don’t be surprised if Wing winds up in the mix for the win this weekend, either. Wing went 1-for-3 last weekend in Deadwood, South Dakota, but his buckoff came at the 7.16-second mark against Legacy.
Wing’s 30-percent riding percentage is his highest since covering 35 percent of his bulls in 2012. He has already won over $104,000 – the second-most of his career in one season – this year.
Wing has never finished inside the Top 10 of the world standings, and his best finish was in 2012 when he finished 19th.
The Dalhart, Texas, cowboy, though, has been a rider that experts saw glimpses of talent before.
Wing has been a perennial Top 35 rider with seven consecutive World Finals qualifications.
However, it had been a few years since Wing has shown this kind of riding ability that has him inside the Top 10.
“Stormy Wing is serious about riding,” PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said. “We knew he was talented, but I never knew if he would get himself in that place again where making the whistle is important to him, but he is there.
Lambert continued, “You have to want it. It doesn’t mean that somebody that doesn’t really want it doesn’t enjoy being around it and stuff like that. You have to really want it and making that whistle is really important to him.”
The ability to knock an occasional bull ride out of the park hasn’t been an anomaly for Wing.
He is averaging 86.96 points per ride this season and has won five BFTS rounds, but his lack of consistency historically has been his biggest hiccup.
“He is starting to string some good long-round rides between those 90s every so often,” McBride said. “A couple event wins. This is a career-best for Stormy.”
Lambert added, “Whatever motivates him, he is doing it the way he needs to right now,” Lambert concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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