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In front of a raucous, socially-distanced crowd at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, Eli Vastbinder (Statesville, North Carolina) captured his career-first PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event victory, going a perfect 3-for-3 at the league’s Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Lexington Invitational.

The 29-year-old advanced to Round 2 after recording an 82-point score on Flea Flicker (Richardson Land & Cattle Co.) in Round 1 on Friday evening.

Continuing the momentum, Vastbinder remained flawless in the second round when he made the requisite 8 aboard Mr. Wyers (Rawson/Obernagel/Daisy’s Bucking Bulls) for 84.5 points.

Vastbinder then secured the victory in the final round when he became the lone contender to cover all three of his bovine athlete opponents during the two-night bull riding, covering Newsom (Rawson/Obernagel/Daisy’s Bucking Bulls) for 76.5 points in the championship round.

For his efforts, North Carolina-native Vastbinder earned a critical 31 world points. After beginning the event ranked No. 62 in the world, he surged 35 positions and is now ranked No. 27.

Thiago Salgado (Navirai, Brazil) placed second, earning 30 world points.

After winning Round 1 on Friday evening compliments of an 88-point score aboard Lil Williard (Richardson Land & Cattle Co.), Salgado was humbled in the event’s second round, when he was brought down in a quick 1.71 seconds by Chickasaw (CO Cattle Co./Bob Whisnant).

Undeterred, the surging Brazilian rebounded in the championship round, covering Money Moves (Mason/Smith Bucking Bulls) for 87 points.

Marking his career-first appearance on the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, and fourth-evert event on American soil, Salgado rose from No. 68 to No. 38 in the world.

Tying for the Round 2 win, Marcus Mast (Middlebury, Indiana) placed third overall.

Mast first rode The Beast (Yount Bucking Bulls, LLC) for 87.5 points in Round 1, before winning the second round courtesy of an 87-point score atop Rip (3J Ranch).

His hopes of a flawless outing in the Bluegrass State were dashed in the championship round when he was bested by White Squirrel (Sho-Me Rodeo/Titan Cattle Co.) in 3.58 seconds.

Seeking his second qualification to the PBR World Finals in 2021, Mast is now ranked No. 37 in the world after beginning the league’s expansion series tour stop No. 82. He is 13 points outside of the Top 30 and a position on the elite Unleash The Beast.

Chase Dougherty (Canby, Oregon) finished in fourth place.

Fresh off his victory at the Touring Pro Division event in Texarkana, Arkansas, last weekend, Dougherty began the PBR Lexington Invitational on a high note, finishing fourth in Round 1 after covering White Squirrel for 87 points.

Following a 3.4-second buckoff aboard Speck (JQH Bucking Bulls-Skip & Elaine Jones) in Round 2, Dougherty concluded the event with a qualified ride, making the 8 aboard Driller (Richardson Land & Cattle Co.) for 87 points.

Dougherty’s Top-5 finish earned him 11 world points and he is now No. 32 in the world after travelling to Lexington ranked No. 36. He trails the world’s Top 30 and a position on the premier Unleash The Beast by a slim 6 world points.

Rounding out the Top 5 was Guatemalan sensation Rodrigo Melgar (Santa Rose, Guatemala) in fifth place.

Bucking off Bring It On (GEM Bucking Bulls) in 7.35 seconds in Round 1, Melgar was flawless on the final day of action for the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Lexington Invitational.

Melgar recorded his first score of the event in Round 2 when he rode Nightmare (Richardson Land & Cattle Co.) for 85 points in Round 2. He then won the championship round via an 88-point score aboard Blessed (Nothin’ But Try Ranch/Diggers Bucking Bulls).

The 23-year-old’s efforts earned him 11.33 world points and he is now ranked No. 31 in the world.   

The PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Lexington Invitational was also a stop on the 2021 Million Dollar Bull Team Challenge.

Mason/Smith Bucking Bulls won the performance with 278.67 points courtesy of the trips notched by Devil’s SmokeSlim Shady and Money Moves

Second place was SJ Ranch with 276.82 points, while Richardson Land & Cattle Company was third with 276.14 points. SJ Ranch’s team included Cheecho, Rip and Cimarron, while the bronze-effort from Richardson Land & Cattle Company was earned courtesy of outs recorded by Go Blue, Nightmare and Driller. 

Fans can relive all the action from the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Lexington Invitational Sunday, February 21 at 8:00 a.m. EST on RidePass, at RidePass.com or via the RidePass app available on iOS, Android and Roku.

The PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour next travels to North Charleston, South Carolina, and North Charleston Coliseum on Feb. 26-27. Action gets underway with Round 1 at 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday, February 26, followed by Round 2 and the championship round on Saturday, February 27 at 7:00 p.m. EST.

PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour – Lexington Invitational
Rupp Arena – Lexington, Kentucky
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)

  1. Eli Vastbinder, 82-84.5-76.5-243.00-31 Points.
  2. Thiago Salgado, 88-0-87-175.00-30 Points.
  3. Marcus Mast, 87.5-87-0-174.50-19 Points.
  4. Chase Dougherty, 87-0-87-174.00-11 Points.
  5. Rodrigo Melgar, 0-85-88-173.00-11.33 Points.
  6. Rafael Henrique dos Santos, 0-85.5-87-172.50-6.5 Points.

(tie). Michael Lane, 86-86.5-0-172.50-6 Points.

  1. Wyatt Rogers, 84.5-86.5-0-171.00-2.5 Points.
  2. Hunter Ball, 83.5-87-0-170.50-5.5 Points.
  3. Jesse Petri, 85.5-0-84.5-170.00-2 Points.
  4. Eli Byler, 87.5-0-0-87.50-3.5 Points.
  5. Hayden Harris, 86-0-0-86.00-1 Points.
  6. Valdiron de Oliveira, 0-85.5-0-85.50-1 Points.
  7. Luciano De Castro, 0-85-0-85.00-0.33 Points.

(tie). Bradley Brittain, 0-85-0-85.00-0.33 Points.

  1. Allen Burkholder, 0-84.5-0-84.50
  2. Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 84-0-0-84.00

(tie). Jake Davis, 84-0-0-84.00

  1. Caleb Christian, 83.5-0-0-83.50

(tie). Romildo Rodrigues, 0-83.5-0-83.50

Dakota Louis, 0-0-0-0.00

Cody Casper, 0-0-0-0.00

João Henrique Lucas, 0-0-0-0.00

Leonardo Lima, 0-0-0-0.00

Paulo Ferreira Lima, 0-0-0-0.00

Thor Hoefer II, 0-0-0-0.00

Keith Hall, 0-0-0-0.00

Wallace Vieira de Oliveira, 0-0-0-0.00

Logan Biever, 0-0-0-0.00

Lucas Fideles Souza, 0-0-0-0.00

Conner Halverson, 0-0-0-0.00

Francisco Morales, 0-0-0-0.00

Triston Dean, 0-0-0-0.00

Laramie Craigen, 0-0-0-0.00

Rubens Barbosa, 0-0-0-0.00

Cody Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00

Grayson Cole, 0-0-0-0.00

Alex Santana, 0-0-0-0.00

Dylan Smith, 0-0-0-0.00

Carlos Gomes Junior, 0-0-0-0.00

Lucas Phipps, 0-0-0-0.00

Eli Miller, 0-0-0-0.00

Jake Gowdy, 0-0-0-0.00

Tyler Brinkley, 0-0-0-0.00

Ednei Caminhas, 0-0-0-0.00