PUEBLO, Colo. – Boudreaux Campbell has been close to wanting to flush his 2022 season down the drain since sitting out two months because of an injury to his left riding hand at the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Bluff City Classic on Feb. 12.
Initially, it appeared as if Campbell’s 2-for-2 victory in Memphis, Tennessee, would be a lightning rod and push the 2020 PBR World Finals event winner back on the fast track to a third consecutive PBR World Finals qualification. However, Campbell was only able to compete in one more event before taking two months off to let his hand heal.
As he sat at home impatiently waiting to be cleared to return to competition, Campbell wondered if he should just shut down his 2022 campaign and turn the page.
“Originally, it was getting late in the season, and this year is a quick season,” Campbell told PBR.com last weekend. “Everybody had points, and I figured I should just get prepared for the teams deal and a 2023 world title.”
Campbell is not a quitter, though, and is now trying to salvage his season with a late push to make the 2022 PBR World Finals, where anything is possible.
The 23-year-old knows he has a simple pathway to Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, for the World Finals on May 13-22:
Win the 2022 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals, presented by Coastal Bend Chevy Dealers, for the second consecutive season.
Last year, he went a perfect 3-for-3 to win the 2021 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals. It will likely take another flawless performance for Campbell to find himself inside Dickies Arena later this month.
“I am just going to go in there to ride my bulls and let everything else take care of itself,” Campbell said. “It is just another story, you could say. Other than that, no, I am not worried about the Finals or anything. I am just going to go wherever I need to go and stay on bulls and do my job.”
Campbell has drawn Honey Pain (0-0) for Round 1 at American Bank Center Arena in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Friday night. The No. 53-ranked bull rider in the world is 42 points outside the Top 35, but he is only 29 points behind VT. No 1 Griffin Smeltzer.
The Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals can be watched live on RidePass on Pluto TV on Friday at 8:15 p.m. ET and Saturday at 6:45 p.m. ET.
No rider in PBR history has won two VT Finals titles, let alone back-to-back VT Finals titles, since the first Velocity Tour Finals was held in 2015.
Mason Taylor (2020) could also become the first to win two Velocity Tour Finals event titles. The No. 13-ranked bull rider in the world is coming off a fifth-place finish last weekend in Billings, Montana.
“It would be really cool to win back-to-back Velocity Finals,” Campbell said.
The last two years, Campbell and Taylor have been two of the best riders at the World Finals not named Jose Vitor Leme.
Campbell went 4-for-5 to win the 2020 World Finals event average and the Rookie of the Year title the only other time the PBR held its World Finals in the state of Texas. Taylor, meanwhile, went 5-for-6 and finished third at the 2021 World Finals behind Leme and 2018 World Champion Kaique Pacheco.
Leme and Pacheco are the anticipated top two selections in the upcoming 2022 PBR Team Series Draft, presented by ZipRecruiter, on May 23 at Texas Live! Campbell knows his draft stock has taken a hit this year.
At only 23 years old and with a World Finals victory and a Velocity Tour Finals event win on his resume, though, Campbell will likely go much higher in the draft than his 2022 world ranking as of now would suggest.
“I know I am not going to be atop the list to be drafted, but whatever team drafts me, that is where I am going to go ride and help them win the most money and show them they need me to win,” Campbell said. “Winning the Finals and winning all the money can definitely rocket me back into that conversation.”
SALGADO FACING KNEE PREDICAMENT
2022 has also been quite frustrating for reigning Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour champion Adriano Salgado, who is 0.5 points outside a World Finals qualification spot via the world standings.
While Campbell is feeling better, it is no secret Salgado is still trying to grit his way through a right knee injury dating back to last year’s World Finals.
“My injuries have been in the way,” Salgado, who also partially dislocated his left shoulder in January, said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “My knee, I am thinking about getting surgery after the Finals. Sometimes it just comes out.”
Salgado does not want to give up on riding at the World Finals for a second consecutive season first. Not only is he right on the cusp of leaping ahead of No. 37 Ezekiel Mitchell, but he still could make a push for a second consecutive Velocity Tour championship as he is only 30.5 points behind VT leader Griffin Smeltzer.
The 23-year-old overcame a 33.5-point deficit last year to win the 2021 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour championship, but previous No. 1 Michael Lane did not compete in Las Vegas because of a thumb injury.
Salgado has bucked off six consecutive bulls heading into his Round 1 matchup against Pearl Snap (1-0, all levels).
No rider in PBR history has won multiple Velocity Tour championships. Mason Taylor (2020), Alisson de Souza (2018) and Alex Marcilio (2017) are also competing this weekend in Corpus Christi and could win their second VT titles.
“I am focused on being a back-to-back VT champ, and that automatically gets me where I need to be,” Salgado concluded.
Article Courtesy of the PBR
Photo By Andy Watson/ Bull Stock Media