NEWARK, N.J. – World Champion Jose Vitor Leme knew something was wrong on Sunday afternoon when he felt his right groin pop during his event-winning 90.75-point ride on Slingin Tears at the PBR ZipRecruiter Invitational.
Leme immediately grabbed his lower body and motioned for the PBR Sports Medicine team, who then assisted him to the sports medicine room at Prudential Center.
The world No. 1 bull rider has been dominating the 2021 World Championship race all season wrong, but Leme’s seventh event win of the season ended with uncertainty.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Leme sustained a right groin strain, and that he will need to undergo an MRI this week to determine the severity of the injury. However, there is a belief the injury is not season-ending.
“Yeah, I never feel something like this before,” Leme said. “I felt my groin (pop), and I don’t know if it’s bad or not. Tandy says he thinks it’s not too bad, but we need to see the MRI to see what’s happening.”
Leme was sensational in Newark all weekend, winning the final two rounds of competition to tie two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney’s single-season record for premier series round wins (2013, ‘19). He also moves to within one event win of trying two-time World Champion Justin McBride for the most event wins in a single season (2007, ‘08).
“I didn’t expect this ending, but that happens,” Leme, the first rider to win seven events in back-to-back seasons, said. “I’m unlucky today, but I’m lucky because I win the event, so I got some points and some money. I’m happy, but I’m mad too.”
Leme rode A-Team for 88.5 points in Round 1 on Saturday night and began his path to victory Sunday with 92 points on Home Wrecker to win Round 2.
The 25-year-old now leads No. 2 Kaique Pacheco by 866 points in the world standings. That would undoubtedly allow Leme to sit out a few events and rest his injured groin if he wanted.
Leme, though, does not want to miss any events.
“I don’t want to, but I don’t know,” Leme said. “I don’t want to take weeks off. I want to keep riding. I will do my best to recover some, and I will try getting on bulls next week too. But I don’t know. We’ll see how bad it is. I hope I can go to the next event. Tandy told me maybe a couple weeks off, but I don’t want to. I want to keep riding.”
Pacheco went 2-for-3 in Newark and finished in 10th place following his 7.19-second buckoff against The Hard Stuff in the championship round.
DAVIS DEALING WITH THUMB INJURY
World No. 3 Cooper Davis fell to 914 points behind Leme in the world title race, and he raised some eyebrows when he turned down a re-ride option in the championship round following his 77.5-point ride on DJ Long John that moved him up to third in the event. Davis, though, explained that his lingering ligament injury to the thumb on his riding hand had flared up this weekend, and he did not want to risk losing a score.
Next weekend, the Unleash The Beast heads to Deadwood, South Dakota, for the PBR Monster Energy Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media