FORT WORTH, Texas – Luciano de Castro may be competing at his fifth PBR World Finals, but a different set of butterflies than usual began to flutter in his stomach late Saturday night.
Castro had just ridden Montana Jacket for 91.25 points, and as he began to pack up his gear back after getting some treatment on his bruised calf inside the PBR Sports Medicine room, he realized how real his World Championship aspirations are.
“I got real nervous and tense when I thought about it,” Castro said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “I could be a World Champion this week, and I just got really nervous and excited thinking about it, and I just prayed. I just wanted to ask God to give me the strength to do good work and have a good Finals. If it’s meant to be for me to win the world, it will be great, but if not, I want to have a great Finals and do my job. These are good nerves.”
The 26-year-old was successfully poised on Sunday afternoon at Dickies Arena, winning Round 3 of the 2022 PBR World Finals with a 90.25-point ride on Mike’s Motive.
Castro earned 89 points toward the world standings to jump up two positions to No. 4 in the world standings. The 2015 PBR Brazil champion is only 262.49 points behind world leader Daylon Swearingen with the World Finals taking a three-day hiatus before resuming on Thursday night.
“Today, when I saw my bull, I knew I had a great draw and had a chance to win the round,” Castro said. “I was comfortable and confident and calm today. I just needed to do my job.”
Four years ago, Castro was the No. 4-ranked bull rider at the start of the 2018 PBR World Finals, but he was too far behind future World Champion Kaique Pacheco to be a true threat.
2022 is much different as Castro’s first career World Finals round victory Sunday keeps him right in the gold-buckle mix.
Castro has certainly not been discussed as a top World Champion contender, but he should certainly be considered alongside Swearingen, No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira, No. 3 Pacheco and No. 5 Jose Vitor Leme.
The Guzolandia, Brazil, native is very much alive in the world title race because he is tied for fifth in the event average and is only one bull ride – 86.75 points – behind event leader Cody Jesus. The only other two riders a perfect 3-for-3 in Fort Worth are Vieira (3-for-3, 264 points) and Pacheco (3-for-3, 262 points).
Round 4 airs Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
Top 5 PBR World Standings
1. Daylon Swearingen (981.49 points)
2. Joao Ricardo Vieira (-16.99 points)
3. Kaique Pacheco (-107.49 points)
4. Luciano de Castro (-262.49 points)
5. Jose Vitor Leme (-290.66 points)
Castro has posted back-to-back 90-point rides after beginning the Finals with a 4.69-second buckoff against High Hopes. His five round wins is tied with five other riders for the second-most in the PBR.
“(Saturday) night was a way harder bull to ride than the first round,” Castro said. “And after I rode my bull last night, I thought, ‘Well, I can do this.’ Now I realized I can do it, calmed down, got back where I need to be, and got it done.”
Castro arrived in the United States in 2017 with high expectations and developed into a Top-10 bull rider in 2018 and 2019, finishing with the sixth-most and eighth-most qualified rides in the PBR in those two years. However, he then struggled tremendously with various injuries – hip, knee, groin, ribs, collapsed lungs, you name it – in the past two seasons, finishing No. 46 in the world standings in back-to-back years and admittedly losing his confidence.
He has finally bounced back this year, and the No. 4-ranked bull rider in the world is 21-for-47 (44.68%) with two 15/15 Bucking Battle victories.
This week, Castro will head back home to Decatur, Texas, and receive treatment on his calf in preparation for the most important five rounds of his PBR career when the Finals resume on Thursday night.
When asked about his plans this week, Castro flashed a confident grin.
“Think about winning a World Championship,” he concluded. “I will come back for the second half next week and then win the event. And with that, I’ll be a World Champion.”
Article Courtesy of PBR
Photo By Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media