PUEBLO, Colo. – With five days remaining until the Built Ford Tough Series resumes in Tulsa, Oklahoma, PBR.com will take a look at the Top 5 riders in the world standings before the stretch run to the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals officially begins.
Today, we look at Chase Outlaw, who is currently fifth in the world standings.
FIRST HALF RECAP: Outlaw has continued to evolve into a more successful bull rider a year after finishing a career-high 14th in the world standings, despite missing half of the season because of reconstructive shoulder surgery.
Outlaw finished the first half with a PBR-best six round wins, including a 15/15 Bucking Battle victory in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to emerge as a world title contender.
The stout, fiery bull rider has been magic to judges’ eyes whenever he reaches the 8-second mark, averaging 86.86 points per ride this year.
Outlaw hasn’t won an event title in 2017, but he does have six Top-5 finishes, including two second-place finishes and two third-place finishes.
The five-time World Finals qualifier is on pace to shatter his personal-high for qualified rides in a season (21) after going 18-for-44 through 14 events and his 40.91 percent riding average is the second-highest of his career.
Outlaw has proven this year that his 2016 surge was no fluke, and that he is ready to compete alongside the top contenders in the PBR.
BEST FIRST HALF PERFORMANCE: Outlaw earned a season-high 460 world points in St. Louis by going 3-for-4 with two round victories.
Outlaw began the weekend by winning Round 1 (87.25 points on Gypsy Joe) and Round 2 (88 points on American Sniper). He then followed those two rides up with 85.25 points on Mr. Big Stuff before losing out on the event victory when Bad Beagle bucked him off in 5.04 seconds in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
The three consecutive rides was the second-best streak of the season for Outlaw, who had ridden four consecutive bulls in Sacramento, California, after beginning that event with a 4.56-second buckoff against Wolf Deer in Round 1.
FIRST HALF TOP RIDE: 90.5 points on Cooper Tires Brown Sugar (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
ENDING THE SUMMER ON FIRE: Outlaw did not have the kind of summer run that he had in 2016, when he earned a PBR-high 512.5 points toward the world standings, but it looks like the 25-year-old has possibly found his stride at just the right time.
Outlaw concluded his summer run with his best performance of the Built Ford Tough Series break this past weekend with two victories and a third-place showing.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider earned 150 points toward the world standings in the span of three days after earning only 102.5 points through the first two months of the break.
Outlaw began his recent run by first winning the Santa Barbara, California, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event on Aug. 3 with an 88-point ride on Indian Medicine after beginning the night with 86.5 points on Low Jack.
Two days later, Outlaw won the Livingston, Montana, Touring Pro Division event with an 87-point ride on Gangster Can Do.
Outlaw was actually triple-entered in the event and also finished in third place as well with an 85.5-point ride on Saint Joe.
His 252.5 world points this summer helped him leapfrog two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney, who is out for the remainder of the season because of shoulder surgery, and enter the Top 5.
CAN OUTLAW REGAIN 2016 DOMINANCE: Outlaw is on pace for his first Top-10 finish in the world standings of his six-year career, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to think Outlaw can potentially make a run at his first world title if he rides like he did last season.
Despite missing the first six months of 2016 recovering from reconstructive shoulder surgery, Outlaw went on to finish 14th in the world with a 52.38 percent riding average in the second half of the season.
Outlaw also won the 2016 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour championship.
If the Outlaw that was a riding machine in 2016 remerges during this year’s stretch run, he could be a dangerous opponent to his fellow World Champion contenders.
Riding at 50 percent or higher will put a rider in the world title conversation, but so far this year Outlaw is only converting at a 40.91 percent clip. A little bit of consistency will go a far way for Outlaw.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride believes the talent is there for Outlaw, but he will need to shake off the mini-slump he dipped into after winning the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Outlaw has bucked off 10 consecutive bulls at the BFTS level since riding Cooper Tires Brown Sugar for 90.5 points in Sioux Falls.
“Outlaw needs to show back up after the break and put something together,” McBride said. “He needs to transition from a tough, gritty and pretty good bull rider to being a real contender. He had been struggling those last (BFTS) events.
“He will be fine. He is a confident little rascal. He is tough and he loves to ride. Some are going to get him, but he is going to make a bunch of good rides and win a lot of money.”
The No. 5 rider in the world standings trails No. 1 Eduardo Aparecido by 978.34 points.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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