LAS VEGAS – Kaique Pacheco’s second consecutive Last Cowboy Standing victory has once again resulted in the race for the PBR World Championship being close to a dead heat heading into the Built Ford Tough Series summer break.
Pacheco was unable to leave Las Vegas atop the world standings like he did in 2016, but the 825 points he earned toward the world standings this past weekend helped the No. 2 bull rider in the world take a massive chunk out of Eduardo Aparecido’s lead.
Aparecido was eliminated in the final round of Last Cowboy Standing by Magic Train (3.35 seconds) and has seen Pacheco shave 1,105 points off his lead in three weeks.
The 26-year-old heads into the summer break with a slim 180-point lead atop the world standings – a gap in which Pacheco could potentially surpass with success at PBR Brazil events before the BFTS resumes in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Aug. 12.
“We are always talking about Pacheco because he is always in the mix for a World Championship,” PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said. “He is that good. He is just setting it up to be there at the Finals right in the hunt.”
The two Brazilian bull riders have separated themselves in the 2017 world title race from the rest of the field by winning two of the three PBR Majors this year, while also being two of the most consistent riders in the PBR.
Pacheco and Aparecido have combined to win five of the first 16 BFTS events and have close-to-identical riding numbers.
Pacheco leads the PBR with 27 qualified rides, and Aparecido is right behind him with 26 qualified rides. Meanwhile, Aparecido has the best riding percentage at a 52-percent clip with Pacheco on his heels at 50.94-percent.
The rest of the field is 1,100 points or more behind the two Brazilians searching for their first gold buckles.
Historically, any rider within 2,000 points of the world lead heading into the World Finals has a realistic shot at winning the world title.
Currently, there are 17 riders within that golden number: Aparecido, Pacheco, J.B. Mauney, Derek Kolbaba, Chase Outlaw, Jess Lockwood, Stormy Wing, Joao Ricardo Vieira, Matt Triplett, Cooper Davis, Rubens Barbosa, Mason Lowe, Shane Proctor, Cody Teel, Marco Eguchi, Claudio Montanha Jr. and Cody Nance.
Pacheco took an ever-so-slim 72.83-point lead into the summer break last year over No. 2 Mauney, but Pacheco wound up losing out on the world title on the final day of the World Finals to Davis.
Mauney and Davis are prime examples that no lead is safe until the last bull is bucked at World Finals.
Davis overcame a 767.83-point deficit after last year’s summer break, and Mauney stormed back from a 1,350-point deficit to win the 2015 title.
Here is a look at which riders are within 1,300 points of Aparecido.
1. Eduardo Aparecido
2. Kaique Pacheco (-180 points)
3. J.B. Mauney (-1,128.76 points)
4. Derek Kolbaba (-1,125 points)
5. Chase Outlaw (-1,230.84 points)
6. Jess Lockwood (-1,237.5 points)
The summer months will not be a complete break for the riders – if they so choose – either.
The PBR still offers various points toward the world standings with Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour, Touring Pro Division and international events in Canada, Brazil and Australia.
Riders will deploy different strategies before the stakes really raise during the final 10 BFTS events until the World Finals on Nov. 1-5 at T-Mobile Arena.
Aparecido and Pacheco have opted to head home to Brazil for the summer. Both said they will compete in a handful of PBR Brazil events.
Mauney will continue his summer tradition of rest outside of competing at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Bismarck, North Dakota, on June 16 and the Hometown Dodge Challenger Touring Pro Division event in Vinita, Oklahoma, the following day.
Kolbaba plans on competing in select Velocity Tour events, as well as potentially some rodeos, while Outlaw and Lockwood have expressed interest in making a hard summer push.
Last year, Outlaw led all riders by earning 512.5 points points toward the world standings with an outstanding summer run.
In other words, the 2017 World Championship race is far from over, but we have begun to see this year’s group of contenders truly take shape.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2018 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.