Vastbinder surges from No. 31 to No. 16 in the race for the 2023 PBR World Championship
TULSA, Okla. – In front of a record-setting crowd Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Eli Vastbinder (Statesville, North Carolina) reached a crucial career milestone, delivering a flawless 3-for-3 effort inside BOK Center to win his career-first PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Unleash The Beast event, victorious at the Express Ranches Classic, presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
The premier series event set both a single-day and weekend attendance record for an Unleash The Beast tour stop in Tulsa. On Saturday evening, more than 9,400 fans packed BOK Center, while more than 15,200 attended throughout the entire weekend.
Vastbinder first put points on the board in Round 1, delivering the eighth best score when he covered Lapua (Blake Sharp/Floyd/Wilson/High Voltage) for 85.25 points.
The Captain of the Oklahoma Freedom in the PBR Team Series, which goes back into action in July, then surged to second on the event leaderboard when he topped Mighty Mike (Braun Bucking Bulls) for 87.75 points in the second round.
With the second selection in the championship round bull draft, Vastbinder elected to go head-to-head with the appropriately named Tulsa Time (Cord McCoy/Kelly & Cami Heath/McCoy Rodeo).
In a decision which proved dividends, Vastbinder matched the powerful animal athlete jump-for-jump en route to a monstrous 90.5 points. The 90-point ride was the seventh of Vastbinder’s career in premier level PBR competition and first since April 2022.
Vastbinder’s mammoth score, coupled with the final rider of the night bucking off, clinched his career-first Unleash The Beast victory.
The golden finish brought him a much-needed 126 Unleash The Beast points along with $42,321. Vastbinder catapulted 15 positions in the race for the 2023 PBR World Championship, climbing from No. 31 to No. 16.
Second was 2018 PBR World Champion Kaique Pacheco (Itatiba, Brazil), garnering 86.5 Unleash The Beast points.
Pacheco was one of 12 riders to deliver a score in Round 1, reaching the requisite 8 atop Sugar Bear (Halpain Bucking Bulls) for 82.5 points.
The Ice Man remained perfect as Championship Saturday got underway, delivering his second score in as many attempts when he outlasted Tijuana Two-Step (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls) for 85 points.
The humble Brazilian then architected a rematch with the Canadian-born Moonlight Party (Jane Clark/Gene Owen). Having met three times prior, Pacheco had made the 8 in their two most recent showdowns for 90 points or more, including in November 2022 when he rode the bull for 90.75 points during the inaugural PBR Team Series Championships when his Nashville Stampede won the first-ever league title.
Replicating his past successes, Pacheco remained in perfect time with Moonlight Party, completing his flawless weekend with an 88.75-point score.
Pacheco rose one position in the standings, climbing from No. 4 to No. 3, and is now within 190.5 points of No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme (RIbas do Rio Pardo, Brazil).
Leme remained atop the standings compliments of a fifth-place finish at the PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
The two-time PBR World Champion entered the championship round atop the leaderboard after he rode Diamond in the Ruff (H Bar E/Squirrel Creek/Robinson) for 88.75 points in Round 1 and The Show (Young Cattle CO./S Bar 5, LLC) for 88.25 points in Round 2.
With the first selection in the championship round bull draft, Leme picked a familiar opponent in I’m Legit Too (Hart Cattle Co./Hale). The two had met five times prior, with Leme making the eight in their four most recent pairings.
In Tulsa, however, I’m Legit Too emerged the more dominant athlete, denying Leme his fourth Unleash The Beast victory of 2023 when he sent him to the ground in 5.97 seconds.
Leme will return to his home in Texas having earned 51.5 Unleash The Beast points. He expanded his lead over No. 2 Andrew Alvidrez (Seminole, Texas), who did not compete this weekend due to injury, to 167 points.
Wingson Henrique da Silva (Navirai, Brazil) was third.
As the final rider to be a perfect 3-for-3, Silva earned his scores atop Flight Risk (Risen Cattle Co.) for 82.75 points in Round 1, Moon Juice (Shuler Bucking Bulls) for 68.75 points in Round 2 and Chateau Montelena’s Montana Jacket (Vella/Coleman/Ogden/Hart) for 90.25 points in the championship round.
The 90-point score was the first of the rising Brazilian’s career in elite PBR competition.
Silva earned a critical 66 Unleash The Beast points. He rose from No. 22 to No. 17 in the standings.
Rounding out the Top 5 in fourth was Kyler Oliver (Roy, Utah), netting 78 Unleash The Beast points.
After being bucked off by Mighty Mike in 3.02 seconds in Round 1, Oliver returned determined on Championship Saturday.
He righted the ship in Round 2 when he delivered the top score, riding Soul Train (Shuler Bucking Bulls) for 89.25 points.
Advancing to the championship round, Oliver chose UTZ BesTex Smokestack (Blake Sharp/Chris Utz/Garrett Carey) as his final animal athlete opponent.
Oliver was a near picture of perfection atop the striking bovine, riding him for an event-best 92 points. The score is the new high-marked ride of Oliver’s career, and his eighth 90-point ride.
The Utah native climbed 19 positions in the 2023 PBR World Championship standings, surging from No. 48 to No. 29.
In the bull pen, UTZ BesTex Legend (Blake Sharp/Chris Utz/Garrett Carey) wowed, crowned the YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Event. The athletic animal was scored a tour-stop best 46.5 points in the championship round when he tossed Joao Henrique Lucas (Bastos, Brazil) in a quick 1.62 seconds.
Elsewhere in the PBR, the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour held events in both Reading, Pennsylvania, and Palm Springs, California.
In Pennsylvania, riding in front of a sold-out home state crowd, Grayson Cole (New Ringgold, Pennsylvania) remained red-hot, going 2-for-3 to win the PBR Boot Barn Reading Invitational inside Santander Arena.
The victory was Cole’s second in as many weeks, fresh off his golden finish last weekend in North Charleston, South Carolina.
The surging young gun first put points on the board in Round 1 when he covered Old School (J Bar W) for 85.5 points. Positioned second on the event leaderboard as Championship Saturday got underway, Cole overtook the lead when he topped Pneu-Dart’s Southern Twist (Mike Miller Bucking Bulls) for 86.5 points in Round 2.
While Cole was unable to conclude the tour stop with a score, upended by Pocket Change (J Bar W) in a quick 1.6 seconds in the championship round, his initial two rides were enough to cement the win.
In winning his second Velocity Tour event of the season, Cole earned 116 Velocity Global points as he chases his first Velocity Tour Championship this May.
The Velocity Tour event in Palm Springs is still in progress.
The PBR Unleash The Beast next travels to Matthew Knight Arena, for the PBR Kubota Emerald Chute Out in Eugene, Oregon. The event will be on Friday, February 17, at 10:45 p.m. EST, and Saturday, February 18, at 9:45 p.m. EST.
The PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour next travels to Cedar Park, Texas, on Feb. 17-18, and Memphis, Tennessee, on Feb. 18.
The PBR Cedar Park Chute Out at H-E-B Center gets underway on Friday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. CST and concludes on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. CST. The PBR Bluff City Classic at FedEx Forum begins on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. CST.
PBR RidePass on Pluto TV will offer re-airs and on-demand replays of every PBR Unleash The Beast and Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event. PBR RidePass is available on desktops, laptops and mobile devices via www.pluto.tv. Click here for on-demand PBR programming.
PBR Unleash The Beast
PBR Express Ranches Classic, presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
BOK Center – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
Cooper Davis, 0-0-0-0.00
Thiago Salgado, 0-0-0-0.00
Jesse Petri, 0-0-0-0.00
Boudreaux Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0.00
Casey Roberts, 0-0-0-0.00
Bob Mitchell, 0-0-0-0.00
João Ricardo Vieira, 0-0-0-0.00
Koltin Hevalow, 0-0-0-0.00
Sandro Batista, 0-0-0-0.00
Marcus Mast, 0-0-0-0.00
Ezekiel Mitchell, 0-0-0-0.00
Wyatt Rogers, 0-0-0-0.00
Flavio Zivieri, 0-0-0-0.00
Alex Cerqueira, 0-0-0-0.00
Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 0-0-0-0.00
Tyler Manor, 0-0-0-0.00
Adriano Salgado, 0-0-0-0.00
Vitor Losnake, 0-0-0-0.00
Chase Dougherty, 0-0-0-0.00
Casey Coulter, 0-0-0-0.00
Caden Bunch, 0-0-0-0.00
PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour
PBR Boot Barn Reading Invitational
Santander Arena – Reading, Pennsylvania
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3- Event Aggregate-Event Points)
Kyle Jones, 0-0-0-0.00
Leonardo Lima, 0-0-0-0.00
Justin Ethridge, 0-0-0-0.00
Matt Allgood, 0-0-0-0.00
Keith Hall, 0-0-0-0.00
Dakota Eagleburger, 0-0-0-0.00
Dustin Herman, 0-0-0-0.00
Brandon Chambers, 0-0-0-0.00
Alex Jenks, 0-0-0-0.00
Bennie Shetler, 0-0-0-0.00
Joao Paulo Fernandes, 0-0-0-0.00
Storm Howard, 0-0-0-0.00
Eduardo de Oliveira, 0-0-0-0.00
Austin Beaty, 0-0-0-0.00
Ueberson Duarte, 0-0-0-0.00
Eli Byler, 0-0-0-0.00
Eder Barbosa, 0-0-0-0.00
Perry Schrock, 0-0-0-0.00
Lane Nelson, 0-0-0-0.00
Devin Hager, 0-0-0-0.00
Eli Miller, 0-0-0-0.00
Jared Avina, 0-0-0-0.00
2023 PBR Unleash The Beast World Championship Standings
(Place, Rider, Events, Wins, Top 5’s, Points, Total Winnings)