Team Cooper Tires finishes flawless regular season, Division B set to kick-off
By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF
LAS VEGAS – The Professional Bull Riders tour concocted a new style of competition to keep riders and fans alike safely entertained during the pandemic, culminating in the anticipated return of spectators to PBR events on July 10-12 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge began on June 5 with riders divided into teams of four, competing in head to head matchups against other teams, where the team scoring higher in a best of six ride format comes away victorious. Split into two divisions, Division A and Division B, teams compete in six regular season matchups.
Division A concluded its regular season matchups on June 14, competing June 5-7 and the 12-14. Division B will begin their competitions on June 19. At the end of Division B’s matchups, the top three finishing teams from each division will compete in the championship weekend in Sioux Falls in mid-July.
Team Cooper Tires reigned supreme in Division A, finishing with a perfect 6-0 record after the two weekends of competition. Led by the No. 1 ranked bull rider in the world, Jose Vitor Leme, Team Cooper Tires bested their six opponents by a combined 1105 event aggregate points, winning their final matchup in decisive fashion, 259-0.
“This team environment has been great and it starts with the head of the snake,” said Team Cooper Tires’ rider Sage Kimzey on June 13. “Jose has been nothing besides extraordinary. He leads by example and I think all of us have really bought into the team environment.”
Other teams from Division A, joining Team Cooper Tires at championship weekend, will be Team Las Vegas, 4-2, and Team Can-Am, 3-3.
The final playoff spot hung in the balance as Team Can-Am squared off with Team Union Home Mortgage on June 14. Coming down to the final ride of the matchup, Team Can-Am’s Mauricio Moieira found his team trailing 172.75-88, as he mounted Skitso. In a win or go home scenario, Moieira was able to hold on and complete his ride, scoring 85.5 event aggregate points, propelling Team Can-Am to the .75-point victory and playoff berth.
“I couldn’t be happier for my team,” Team Can-Am’s Ezekiel Mitchell said. “Mauricio really did his thing today. We might have lagged in some areas, but everyone tried their guts out. I couldn’t be happier to be part of this team.”
At the halfway point of the PBR Team Challenge competition, Vitor Leme is running away atop the Built Ford Tough most valuable player standings leader board, having ridden nine of the 12 bulls he’s faced. He outpaces his closest competitors, Roscoe Jarboe, from the eliminated Team Wrangler, and Moreira by four completed rides. Jarboe and Moieira have each completed five of their twelve rides and Vitor Leme leads both riders by more than 340 event aggregate points.
“Jose has been the standalone leader and he has carried this team on his back,” Team Cooper Tires’ Stetson Lawrence said following competition on June 13. “There is no doubt about that. We’re happy to be winning.”
The final six teams comprising Division B: Team Ariat, Team Boot Barn, Team Pendleton Whisky, Team Lucas Oil, Team CAT and Team South Point will complete their six competitions the weekends of June 19-21 and 26-28 to decide the final three contenders to make it to the PBR Team Challenge championship weekend.