Xtreme Bulls Tour finale set for Oct. 24 in Indianapolis
Mississippi bull rider and Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour standings leader Chance Smart hopes to take care of a little unfinished business as the 2008 ProRodeo season heads toward its final crescendo.
While he qualified for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2007, Smart fell short in two other categories: winning the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour national championship and the bull riding world title. He’ll get his first shot at redemption at the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour season finale on Oct. 24. The two-performance contest is held in conjunction with the FFA national convention in Indianapolis.
Smart, the top-ranked rider in the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour standings with $57,687, leads good friend and traveling partner Bobby Welsh by $12,000 heading into the event. After the final bull bucks in Indianapolis, cumulative earnings from the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour season will determine this year’s national champion.
Last year, Smart rode all three bulls in Indianapolis, but watched another good friend, Kanin Asay, earn the national championship. Six weeks later, Smart registered six qualified rides at his first Wrangler NFR, but ended up third in the final world standings.
Smart has led the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings since mid-February, when he won $67,807 at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and a pair of Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour events.
“I did all I could do last year, but I came up short,” Smart said. “So, I decided to use that to motivate me this year, with the goal of winning what I didn’t last year. So far, it’s worked out well.”
Smart, who eclipsed the $100,000 barrier in late March, saw his frantic pace slow to a crawl during the summer, when he went two months (June-July) without a check and missed nearly three weeks with a torn groin muscle, sustained at California Rodeo Salinas in July.
Still, he holds a $34,000 advantage over Welsh in the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings and $34,162 over reigning World Champion Wesley Silcox, who won’t ride in Indianapolis as he competes sparingly due to sustaining multiple fractures of his right leg on Aug. 24 at a Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour event held in Bremerton, Wash.
Sitting fourth is B.J. Schumacher, the 2006 world champion bull rider who has won the past two Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour-stop titles in Indianapolis. Last year, Schumacher won the bull riding title at RodeoHouston and led the world standings for most of the season before a red-hot Silcox took charge at the Wrangler NFR en route to his first world title.
Now, Smart, the longtime front-runner, realizes the perils that can go with occupying the top position.
“You’d think people chasing you would be easy,” Smart said. “Or, you could figure since you’re out in front, that’s where you’re going to stay, so you don’t have to worry. When I wasn’t riding well in Salinas, Matt Austin (2005 world champion) told me to always ride like you’re in second place. Lately, I’ve done better with that frame of mind.”
Smart and Schumacher headline the field that also includes previous Dodge Xtreme Bulls National Champions Zeb Lanham (2006) and Mike Moore (2003). If everything goes right, either Moore or Lanham could surpass Smart to become the Tour’s first two-time champ.
“It would mean a great deal to win it again,” said Moore, the fifth-ranked bull rider in the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour standings with $40,777 who missed most of the summer season after sustaining a fractured hip at the Greeley (Colo.) Independence Stampede in late June. “That would secure my spot in the Wrangler NFR and a chance at a world title, which has always been my top goal.”
Action gets underway with the first performance at 4:30 p.m. EDT, followed by the second round at 8:30 p.m. and a final round immediately following. All 40 riders will compete in both rounds, with the top 12 cowboys returning for the final round.
And Smart hopes to be there, standing tall in the end. If it doesn’t work out again, he’ll be cheering for another longtime friend.
“Bobby (Welsh) was my first traveling partner when I hit the road full time,” Smart said. “This year, it looks like it’s between me and him, and I’d be tickled to death if he won it. That way, it would stay in the family.”