AUSTIN, Texas – Brennon Eldred is seeing double these days.
The 22-year-old is currently amidst not one, but two intense races as he tries to qualify for the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals and the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Eldred traveled to multiple rodeos this week as he tries to rack up as much money as possible in the PRCA standings, where he is currently ranked No. 13.
Now Eldred needs to refocus on Saturday night to his pursuit of his first PBR World Finals qualification following a career-best 2-for-4 performance last weekend in Springfield, Missouri.
Eldred begins the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic, presented by Frontier Communications, ranked 30th in the PBR world standings.
He is a mere 98.75 points ahead of No. 36 J.W. Harris.
“That (cutline) is where all the guys don’t want to be,” Eldred said. “We are shooting to be right up there at the top. That is where I think I should be and that is where I want to be. It definitely can get you down if you let it, but it is bull riding. I just have to take it one bull at a time.”
The Top 35 riders in the world standings at the end of the regular season automatically qualify for World Finals, while the Top 15 bull riders in the PRCA standings qualify for the NFR.
Eldred is hoping to be far ahead of that Top 35 cutline before the season is over and qualify for both Finals like Harris did in 2014 and Shane Proctor did last season.
Eldred has drawn Element 79 (3-0, BFTS) for Round 1 on Saturday night.
Fans can watch Round 1 exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Eldred arrives in Austin following a good mini rodeo run (2-for-3) this week. As of Saturday morning, Eldred was leading the Abilene, Texas, rodeo and he placed second at the Texarkana, Arkansas, Xtreme Bulls event.
In Springfield, Eldred admitted that while he is a rookie in the PBR sense, he feels more like a veteran.
Eldred’s past success on the rodeo trail only helps him handle the pressure that comes with trying to qualify for his first PBR World Finals.
“Oh, most definitely. I feel like I am not considered a veteran, but I feel like I should be,” Eldred said. “I have been to the NFR three times. I try to take it one bull at a time and not pay attention to the standings and just do my job.”
The standings are tight to say the least and there are nine riders outside of the Top 35 competing in Austin that can easily use one round win to jump ahead of the pack – Harris, No. 37 Cody Rodeo Tyler, No. 38 Lachlan Richardson, No. 38 Kurt Shephard, No. 40 Luis Blanco, No. 44 Nathan Burtenshaw, No. 47 Jordan Hansen, No. 49 Robson Aragao and No. 50 Skeeter Kingsolver.
Brock Radford currently holds the critical No. 35 spot in the world standings with 384.16 world points.
Only 126.66 points separate Radford from Kingsolver in the standings.
Richardson and Blanco are the only riders of the nine alternates to have qualified for the World Finals last year.
Eldred is 5-for-16 (31.25 percent) in seven BFTS events after making his debut on tour back in April.
However, his best performance came in Bismarck, North Dakota, this summer when he rode Cooper Tires Brown Sugar for 91 points and Deep Water for 90.5 points at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour level.
“It has taken me a little longer to settle in than I expected myself to,” Eldred said. “That is just part of it. I have been riding good, but I have been stubbing my toe a little bit.”
Learning how the PBR points system works compared to traditional rodeo was one of the many adjustments Eldred has had to go through.
“It has definitely been a huge adjustment for me,” Eldred said. “Everything. The atmosphere. Everything about it is different. It is a different change of pace.”
However, Eldred believes he is finding his groove at just the right time with only six regular-season BFTS events remaining on the calendar before the World Finals on Nov. 1-5 in Las Vegas.
“I am starting to settle in and am happy to show up,” Eldred concluded. “I am liking it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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