Woody Allen once said 90 percent of life is merely showing up.
Jose Vitor Leme, fresh off the jumbo from Brazil into America for the first time in late 2017 and then sweeping six bulls in Vegas to win the PBR World Finals, may not even know the embattled director or his enduring catchphrase.
Nevertheless, Leme is showing up at the final regular-season Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event this Saturday.
Just as he showed up at Velocity Tour events all year long…to win a boatload of world points.
In fact, if it weren’t for VT points. Leme wouldn’t even be in first place right now.
If PBR’s premier expansion tour did not exist. Jess Lockwood would have a 118.34 point lead atop the world standings, according to PBR inside and world-class number cruncher Justin Felisko.
Leme has earned 640 world points at the tour this season, winning three of four events in which he competed.
Rapid City portends to be as exciting as Bangor Maine was a few weeks ago when during an Unleash The Beast off week, the sport’s top stars descended upon a critical Velocity Tour event for world points.
Of the top four contenders in the world title race, three of the top four in the world rankings are competing in Rapid City.
The rider who will be a no show in the Rapid City Rumble is world No. 2 ranked bull-rider, Jess Lockwood.
Lockwood is, opting to focus on Velocity Tour Finals inside South Point Arena in Las Vegas on November 2-3. Foregoing Rapid City could be a costly gamble…or say Leme gets hurt, and the rest does Jess well, it could work out in the youngest world champion bull rider’s favor.
The 220 world points available in Rapid City are critical not just to Leme and other world title race contenders – Chase Outlaw, Joao Ricardo Viera – but the riders, on the bubble seeking to punch their ticket the PBR World Finals in T-Mobile Arena Nov. 6-10 in Las Vegas. At the VT’s final regular-season event in South Dakota, the stakes could not be much higher for the riders looking to find a way into either finals.
After looking at the Rapid City Rumble draw, some pairings could lead to high-point rides.
There is at least one key rematch to keep a close eye on; Scottie Knapp is paired up with Little Bit Crazy (8-2), a bull who danced with Knapp for the round 2 win in Nampa, ID last weekend with an 88.25 point-ride. It will be interesting to see if these two make magic happen again. A win here would put Knapp within the top 35 bull riders and punch his ticket to world finals.
Chase Outlaw, the Arkansas fan-favorite who is on an unwanted streak of coming just shy of the 8-second whistle whistle these past few weeks, is competing in Rapid City to earn a spot in the Velocity Finals so he, too can maximize his points-grab going into World Finals and gain ground on Leme and Lockwood.
It might take more than two hands to count just how many times over the 2019 season Chase has barely missed the 8. He will just dig in deeper and focus on his next ride. For round one, Outlaw is paired up with Grey Ghost (0-0) and should get to the whistle with this matchup.
Leme seems cool and calm on the back of the chutes like a focused quarterback stepping on the field for a championship game. The Brazilian soccer star seems to focus on just riding and not paying any mind to outside pressure of performing his task, and that may suit him well in this event.
Fans unable to attend the Rapid City Rumble and still want to watch all of the action Saturday night will still be able to catch it all as it happens. PBR will broadcast the action of round one and the championship round on RidePass. The PBR subscription-based digital network with action starting on Saturday, October 26, at 9:00 PM EST. Given the sky high stakes and coveted world points on the line, fans will not want to pass up watching this one.