(Editor's note: PBR media release)
LAS VEGAS – The world’s Top 3 bull riders – No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme, No. 2 Jess Lockwood and No. 3 Chase Outlaw – will headline the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour (PWVT) Finals at South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Nov. 2-3, setting the table for one of the most fiercely contested world championship races in PBR history.
Five crucial PBR World Finals berths are available at the Velocity Tour Finals, which will be awarded to the 2019 PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Champion and runner-up, 2019 PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals event winner and runner-up, and the top finishing international invite. Should any of these individuals already be qualified via the Top 35, the next rider in either the tour standings or event leaderboard will earn the berth to the most prestigious event in professional bull riding.
In the razor-tight race to be crowned the 2019 Tour Champion, the Top 12 ranked riders are separated by fewer than 440 points, with 10 poised to ride inside South Point Hotel and Casino. In addition to leading the world, Leme also sits atop the PWVT standings, 202.5 points in front of No. 2 Taylor Toves, who gained significant ground following his victory in Rapid City, South Dakota at the final regular-season event of the year.
They are followed by No. 3 Ramon de Lima (-282.5), No. 6 Ouncie Mithcell (-359.17), No. 7 Daniel Tinsman (-370), No. 7 Alan de Souza (-370), No. 9 Dylan Smith (-395), No. 10 Michael Lane (-410), No. 11 Cody Tyler (-433.34) and No. 12 Bryan Titman (-435.84).
In the broader PBR World Championship race, No. 1 Leme leads No. 2 Lockwood by a slim 496.66 points and is 1,495.83 points in front of No. 3 Outlaw. One rider has the chance to win 440 world points at the Velocity Tour Finals: 80 points are awarded to the winner in each of the three rounds, and 200 points to the event winner.
Leme, Lockwood and Outlaw each have had their career moments in the expansion series’ season-culminating event.
Leme catapulted to stardom following his performance at the Velocity Tour Finals in 2017. Earning an invite to the event as the season’s PBR Brazil Champion, Leme went 3-for-4 to finish eighth, qualifying for the PBR World Finals as the top-finishing international invite. Once inside T-Mobile Arena, he went a flawless 6-for-6, becoming the fifth rider since 2000 to be perfect at the World Finals. In winning the most prestigious event in bull riding, Leme rose to No. 7 in the world and captured Rookie of the Year honors. Leme has since been a mainstay on the elite Unleash The Beast, finishing No. 2 in the world in 2018.
In 2019 on the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, Leme has earned a crucial 720 world points courtesy of his three event wins in Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 1), Dayton, Ohio (March 16), and Window Rock, Arizona (Sept. 4), along with two additional Top-10 efforts.
World No. 2 Lockwood will compete at the 2019 PWVT Finals as the 2019 Touring Pro Division Champion, concluding the season 52.5 points in front of Joao Ricardo Vieira after earning four event wins, along with five additional Top-10 results.
Much like Leme, Lockwood’s career has been significantly impacted by the PWVT and the Velocity Tour Finals. In 2017, Lockwood began the Velocity Tour Finals No. 5 in the world, 655 points behind then No. 1 Derek Kolbaba (Walla Walla, Washington).
Mounting an incredible 3-for-4 performance to finish fourth, Lockwood garnered 227.5 points, rising to No. 4 in the world, inching within 467.5 points of the top spot. Following a 3-for-6 performance inside T-Mobile Arena, which included a historic three consecutive round wins, Lockwood became the youngest PBR World Champion in league history, edging Kolbaba by a slim 447.5 points.
Last season, Outlaw, who won the PWVT Championship in 2016, became the first rider to win the PWVT Finals in multiple seasons. His 2-for-3 effort inside South Point Arena garnered a massive 320 world points and was part of a broader awe-inspiring second-half surge following a near career-ending injury at Cheyenne Frontier Days in July 2018 that propelled the Arkansas man to No. 22 in the world and his seventh consecutive PBR World Finals qualification.
In addition to featuring the top contenders for the year’s PBR World Championship, the draw will also include seven of the Top 10 riders locked in a feverish battle to be crowned the PBR Rookie of the Year. The contingent is led by world No. 10 Daylon Swearingen (Piffard, New York), who is currently second in the race amongst first-year pros, trailing leader Dalton Kasel (Muleshoe, Texas) by 410.41 points.
The other Rookie of the Year contenders set to compete are: No. 3 Mason Taylor (-556.25), No. 4 Ezekiel Mitchell (-596.25), No. 5 Alisson de Souza (-603.75), No. 6 Lucas Divino (-653.75), No. 9 Alan de Souza (-1,185.41) and No. 10 Toves (-1,196.25).
In addition to competing for valuable points towards the Rookie of the Year title, Swearingen, Taylor, Mitchell, Alan de Souza and Toves are all ranked inside the Top 20 of the PWVT standings. Toves leads the contingent ranked No. 2, followed by: No. 7 Alan de Souza (-370), No. 17 Mitchell (-470), No. 18 Taylor (-472.5) and No. 19 Swearingen (-480).
The field of competitors inside South Point Arena will also feature two-time PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney, who currently finds himself on the bubble of qualifying for his fourteenth consecutive PBR World Finals. Battling countless injuries throughout the year, including rib fractures and a broken left leg (fibula), Mauney is currently in unfamiliar waters, ranked No. 30 in the world.
Other notable riders competing at Velocity Tour Finals, who find themselves on the World Finals bubble are: World No. 31 Keyshawn Whitehorse (PWVT No. 20), No. 33 Lane (No. 10), No. 37 Scottie Knapp (No. 29), No. 41 Lima (No. 3), No. 42 Junio Quaresima (No. 14), and No. 45 Lawson Nobbs (No. 38).
In addition to 2015 Champion Outlaw, the 2019 contenders will also be joined by reigning Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Champion Alisson de Souza.
The roster of riders competing at the “Championship before the Championship” will once again feature top-ranked invites from the PBR’s four international series in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. Those invites are: Lane Mellers (Australia), Leandro Machado (Brazil), Shay Marks (Canada) and Francisco Garcia Torres (Mexico).
Mellers and Machado will make their Las Vegas debut at the PWVT Finals. Torres, however, is no stranger to the pressure of a championship event. Also earning the PBR Mexico invite in 2018, Torres advanced to the first PBR World Finals of his career as the top-finishing international invite at the PWVT Finals after concluding the event twelfth. For Marks, he competed at the 2015 PWVT Finals in Louisville, Kentucky.
Apart for the various fiercely contended races set to be impacted by the 2019 PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals, the event will feature a familial flare. Two pairs of brothers, Jess and Jake Lockwood, in addition to twins Alisson and Alan de Souza, will ride alongside cousins Ezekiel and Ouncie Mitchell.
Each rider will attempt one bull per night Saturday and Sunday. Scores from the rides will then be combined, and the Top 10 riders will advance to the championship round following the completion of Round 2 on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Qualifiers for this year’s PWVT Finals at South Point Arena:
Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil)
Jess Lockwood (Volborg, Montana)
Chase Outlaw (Hamburg, Arkansas)
Derek Kolbaba (Walla Walla, Washington)
Luciano De Castro (Guzolandia, Brazil)
Daylon Swearingen (Piffard, New York)
Mason Taylor (Maypearl, Texas)
Ezekiel Mitchell (Rockdale, Texas)
Alisson De Souza (Taubate, Brazil)
Lucas Divino (Nova Crixas, Brazil)
Matt Triplett (Columbia Falls, Montana)
Claudio Montanha Jr. (Pacaembu, Brazil)
Cody Nance (Paris, Tennessee)
Brennon Eldred (Sulphur, Oklahoma)
Alan de Souza (Taubate, Brazil)
Taylor Toves (Stephenville, Texas)
J.B. Mauney (Statesville, North Carolina)
Keyshawn Whitehorse (McCracken Springs, Utah)
Michael Lane (Tazewell, Virginai)
Dylan Smith (Ararat, Virginia)
Scottie Knapp (Edgewood, New Mexico)
Ramon de Lima (Rio Branco, Brazil)
Junio Quaresima (Meridiano, Brazil)
Lawson Nobbs (Moura, Queensland, Australia)
Shay Marks (Sunnybrook, Alberta, Canad)
Brady Sims (Holt, Missouri)
Ruger Piva (Challis, Idaho)
Marcus Mast (Middlebury, Indiana)
Lane Mellers (Mundubbera, Queensland, Australia)
Ouncie Mitchell (Fresno, Texas)
Cody Casper (Newport, Washington)
Daniel Tinsman (Farmland, Indiana)
Paulo Ferreira Lima (Bezerros, Brazil)
Leandro Machado (Nova Esperança, Brazil)
Bryan Titman (East Bernard, Texas)
Cody Rodeo Tyler (Guthrie, Oklahoma)
Jake Lockwood (Volborg, Montana)
Kache Moosman (Price, Utah)
Devon Weaver (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)
Francisco Garcia Torres (Sal, Mexico)
Leonardo Lima (Vale do Paraiso, Brazil)
Lindomar Lino (Anapolis, Brazil)
Alex Cardozo (Indaiatuba, Brazil)
Luis Blanco (Iacanga, Brazil)
Junior Patrick Souza (Sonora, Brazil)
Lucas Fideles Souza (Barnstable, Massachusetts)
Eli Miller (Statesville, North Carolina)
Austin Richardson (Stephenville, Texas)
PBR also revealed the PWVT Finals bullfighters. The fearless men on the dirt slated to protect the bull riders during each 8-second ride or wreck are: Cody Webster, Lucas Teodoro and Cooper Waln.
The action-packed weekend at South Point will include both ABBI Derby and Classic bulls. The bull pen consists of 48 ABBI Derby bulls – all 3-year-olds – and 48 ABBI Classic competitors. The Derby bulls are athletes just beginning their careers with a bull rider on their backs. This is the first step taken with these bucking bulls to get them ready to perform at future PBR events.
The Classic competition is the ABBI’s Wild Card event, which is a last-ditch effort for bulls who aren’t already qualified for the Classic World Finals. These are 3- and 4-year-old bulls who weren’t quite ready to compete earlier in the year and haven’t been to many events. Up to five of these bulls in this competition can win their way into the Classic Finals first round and appear in Round 1 of the PBR World Finals on Wednesday, Nov. 6.