In addition to Leme, 2, Derek Kolbaba, 13, is lock for the World Finals draw along with Guilherme Marchi, 23. J.B. Mauney, 32; Gage Gay, 33, and Chase Outlaw, 35, are likely to be there too, but won’t be guaranteed a spot until after the upcoming Velocity event.
Gay and Outlaw would likely hold their spot in the draw for the biggest stage in professional bull riding by placing in an a round or the event average at the Velocity Finals. A win would secure the place at the World Finals.
Back in January, Gay won the opening event of the 2018 season in New York City and was the No. 1 ranked rider in the world before tearing his knee with an awkward landing when he was bucked off his opening round bull a week later in Chicago, Illinois.
He returned to competition in July and has been battling through subsequent injuries since his return.
“I definitely didn’t see the year finishing off this way after the first weekend in New York,” he was recently quoted as saying. “Hell, that is the thing about this game, you don’t know what is next.”
Outlaw understands Gay more than any other rider arriving in Vegas.
The Arkansas cowboy missed the first six months of the season while he recovered from his third knee surgery in two years. Less than a month into his comeback, Outlaw busted his face at a lower-level PBR event in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
He suffered 15 fractures on each side of his face.
Doctors used 68 screws, 11 plates and four pieces of surgical mesh to rebuild his face during a procedure that last more than 12 hours.
Just 75 days after undergoing surgery Outlaw returned to competition.
If that was not unthinkable enough, he’s ridden eight of 12 bulls to go from unranked to currently holding the 35th and final spot in the draw for the World Finals.
He’ll use one of his elite-level injury exemptions to compete at the Velocity event.
He told PBR reporter Justin Felisko that he is putting “one foot in front of the other” as he tries to cap off an unthinkable finish to what previously been a nightmare season.
“I still need to keep that pedal to the metal,” said Outlaw, who will undergo another surgical procedure following the World Finals, where doctors will rebreak his face and rebuild one of his eye sockets.
The Velocity event takes place Nov. 2 and 3, while the World Finals will take place Nov. 7–11.