LAS VEGAS – Chase Dougherty and Junior Patrik Souza first met at the Cooper Tires Take the Money and Ride, presented by Union Home Mortgage, in Nampa, Idaho, in 2020.
It was Dougherty’s first Unleash The Beast event, and the two were next to each other as the riders lined up during the intro.
“During prayer, he put his hand on my back and prayed with me,” Dougherty said. “And that was kind of where it all started. I was like, ‘Man, this guy, he really cares about people.’ He doesn’t just want to show up and ride his bulls, which, that’s what he does want to do, but he also wants to be able to help people at the same time.”
Dougherty has been competing full-time in the PBR for the first time this season, and he is now locked in an intense Rookie of the Year race with none other than Souza.
But the friendship that started with a shared prayer hasn’t suffered at all with the competition. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“That’s the thing about bull riding, is everybody thinks that, since we’re competing against each other, we don’t really get along or there’s that competitive edge,” Dougherty said. “But Junior is such a nice guy. He’s one of the nicest men I’ve ever met in my life, and so is Rafael (Henrique dos Santos), and so is Jesse (Petri), and so is Austin (Richardson). I feel like this rookie class here is so tight-knit. We just get along so well, and we help each other so much. I’m so glad that this is the rookie class that I was in.”
Dougherty is ranked No. 2 in the rookie race following Round 2 of the PBR World Finals in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The margin between him and Souza is about as slim as it gets – a mere 17.5 points.
Dougherty finished in a four-way tie for third place in Round 2, riding Midnight Rider for 89.25 points. That score was matched by Joao Ricardo Vieira on Bentley, Dener Barbosa on Marquis Metal Works Red Clark, and Santos on @PBR on TikTok.
“I knew that bull was going to be really good right in the gate,” Dougherty said. “I asked Coop(er Davis) about him and he showed me a video, and so I was just giving it everything I had. I knew my hand was really tight in there. I was pretty stuck to him. So I knew if I wasn’t going to ride him, I was probably going to hit the dirt pretty hard. So I was trying to stay on him as best I could.”
Because one tie isn’t enough, Dougherty is now also in a three-way tie for the overall event lead. He, Cody Teel and Mason Taylor are all 2-for-2 with 177.25 points.
“Pretty bizarre,” Dougherty said. “(Winning the Finals) was my goal coming in here. Me and Junior actually talked about it yesterday before the first round. We said, ‘Let’s just go in here, ride all six bulls, and let the numbers take care of itself,’ so that’s still my game plan. I’m going to ride all six, and then whatever the judges think, I’m going to let them take care of that.”
Dougherty has drawn Wooden Nickels (5-2, UTB) for Round 3 (11 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network).
This is Dougherty’s World Finals debut, and it’s clear that the bright lights of the sport’s biggest stage have done the opposite of rattle him.
“I made the NFR a couple years ago and it’s in Thomas & Mack, so it’s not like I get nervous or anything,” he said. “I love it. I love coming here. Anything that says Finals on the end of it, I feel like it brings an extra 10% out of me, and I just love it. I love it here.”
Dougherty is also riding in front of his 2-month-old son, Calgary Holden, who is in Vegas along with his wife Kara, his parents and some in-laws.
“It means everything,” Dougherty said of having his baby with him. “He went to San Antonio with me and Kara, and that was the only time he really went this year, just because it’s kind of hard wanting to take a baby with us, and I did terrible there. So for him to be here and me to do good, he’s not going to remember any of it, but one day I’ll be able to tell him this happened, and he’ll be able to cherish that.”
Dougherty hopes he and his family have much more to celebrate as the week progresses, a Rookie of the Year buckle among it. For now, though, he plans on getting some good food, winding down with a glass of wine with his wife at night, and waking up early each day, prepared to do it all again.
“My mindset really hasn’t changed all year long up to now,” Dougherty said. “I’ve got to get my bulls rode. It doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. It ain’t going to matter what you do tomorrow. So it’s best to just keep your mind and your ass in the same place.”
Article Courtesy of the PBR
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media