SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Top 2 superstars from the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals will try to create magic once again on Saturday night during the First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard Invitational 15/15 Bucking Battle.
2016 World Champion Cooper Davis and 2016 World Finals event winner Ryan Dirteater will sit down in the bucking chute with two of the toughest draws of the weekend – Jared Allen’s Air Time and world No. 1 bull Pearl Harbor.
First, Dirteater will look to become the first rider in a year to make the 8-second mark on world No. 1 bull Pearl Harbor.
Chad Berger’s bovine athlete has bucked off 12 consecutive riders since two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney rode him last year in Sioux Falls for 94.25 points.
So far, though, Dirteater has been manhandled by Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor dismantled Dirteater in 3.6 seconds (Tulsa, Oklahoma) and 1.65 second (Oklahoma City) last season.
“He is really strong,” Dirteater said. “My timing was a little off. I started him good this last time I got on him. I just got back leaning a bit. If I just stay to the front and give it all I got I will have a chance.”
Fans can watch the 15/15 Bucking Battle exclusively on CBS national television Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Pearl Harbor has been outstanding this season, using a an extremely difficult rollercoaster drop out of the bucking chute to gain a quick advantage on his opponents
He has been marked 46.25 points or higher in his last three outs and is 5-0 with an average bull score of 46.2 points.
Pearl Harbor bucked off Stetson Lawrence in 3.82 seconds two weeks ago at the Ty Murray Invitational for a career-high 46.75 points.
“Pearl Harbor is a good bull,” Dirteater said. “You can break records on that bull. If everything goes right, it has to be your night, your time. You have to do everything correct because you know he is going to buck and do his part. Magic is going to happen. I can’t wait.”
Dirteater was bucked off by Inferno in 5.65 seconds in Round 1 on Friday night.
Pearl Harbor has been a problem for some of the best riders since Berger acquired the bovine athlete last July.
Davis was bucked off twice by Pearl Harbor, while Kaique Pacheco and Joao Ricardo Vieira came within 1 second of riding Pearl Harbor.
“I have seen him more now than I did last time,” Dirteater said. “I am really looking forward to it.”
Davis was bucked off by 20/A in Round 1 in a quick 3.49 seconds, but the reigning World Champion believes his 90.5-point ride on Spotted Demon, which ended the bull’s streak of 24 consecutive buckoffs, could be a turning point in his season.
The No. 8 ranked bull rider in the world standings now will try to end Air Time’s streak of 28 consecutive buckoffs on the Built Ford Tough Series.
“After last weekend, I feel really comfortable and excited to have him,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t have said that last weekend. I took a bad one down, so it helps my confidence out.”
Davis’ mindset heading into his 15/15 Bucking Battle matchup against Air Time is almost night and day compared to the dreaded look on his face when he headed into the Glendale championship round draft where he thought he was going to get stuck with Air Time.
Instead, he got Spotted Demon and came through with his best ride of the season.
Davis believes he can slay another dragon in Sioux Falls.
“This is the weekend,” he said. “The spotted sucker is going to get rode. I am tired of all the hype. Honestly, I don’t see any reason why we can’t ride him.”
Stock contractor Matt Scharping isn’t going to count out Davis either.
“Cooper knows how to ride him,” Scharping said. “Cooper is a World Champion. I am not going to tell Cooper nothing he don’t know. The bull is going to buck. You don’t know what he is going to do. Nobody does. If you would have told me last week he was going to go to the right I would have said there is no way.
“You don’t become a World Champion if you can’t ride a bull like that. I am confident Cooper can ride him.”
Air Time is 4-0 this season and hasn’t been ridden since 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes covered the 8-year-old white-spotted bull in 2014 for 92.5 points.
“That bull will try anything to get a guy off his back,” Scharping added. “If he could pull a knife on him, I am pretty sure he would do it.”
The closest anybody has gotten to riding Air Time since Nunes was Cody Nance, who lasted 6.8 seconds in Oklahoma City two months ago.
Since being switched to the right-handed delivery, Air Time has bucked off Mauney (2.17 seconds) and J.W. Harris (2.13 seconds).
Davis had a crack at Air Time at J.W. Hart’s annual summer event in Decatur, Texas, last year and came down in 2.58 seconds.
“He is really strong,” Davis said. “There is a fine line on him where if you sit up to much and he hits you in the back or he is going to just jerk you down. You kind of have to ride that fine line of being bowed down and sitting up. You have to make a perfect ride on him.
“I don’t think there is one that can’t be rode,” Davis concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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