PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge: Lawrence Steps Up On Emergency Basis for Team Cooper Tires

Stetson Lawrence Stetson Lawrence Photo by PBR.com

Stetson Lawrence was about as surprised as those watching at home when he learned that his Team Cooper Tires teammate Sage Kimzey would not be getting on his second bull on Saturday night.
The reigning six-time PRCA champion had aggravated a chronic right elbow injury during his 3.44-second buckoff against Skitso in Round 1 of Team Cooper Tires game against Team YETI and was unable to continue.

“Sage came out told me and said he couldn’t feel his fingers and his hand was numb,” Lawrence told PBR.com via phone on Saturday night. “I didn’t expect to get on at all tonight. I stayed ready, though, just in case. Only thing I had to do was put my knee and elbow braces on and tape my wrist. I knew something like that could happen.”
Just like that and Lawrence had about roughly 15 minutes to get ready to ride for Team Cooper Tires, which at that time only had a slim 88.25-point lead on Team YETI during the Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol.
The seven-time PBR World Finalist, and oldest bull rider on Team Cooper Tires, remained unfazed, though.
Lawrence took care of business and easily handled Keno for 88.5 points as Team Cooper Tires (2-0) easily defeated Team YETI (0-2) 332-0 at Pendleton Whisky Let ‘Er Buck Saloon at South Point Arena.
“Once Sage said he couldn’t get on, I was focused in on doing my job, and that’s about it,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t worry about how many bulls we had down, and just focused on getting my job done. That is the only thing I can control.”
One reason why Lawrence was so confident was that he had previously ridden Keno for 88 points last year at the Williston, North Dakota, Touring Pro Division event.
“I rode him there so I knew what to expect,” Lawrence said. “I went and did my job and stayed aggressive, and it worked out.”
Team Cooper Tires heads into Sunday’s CBS Game of the Week against Team Union Home Mortgage (1-1) atop the Division A standings. Team Cooper Tires leads the league in qualified rides (8) and aggregate score (668.25 points).
The game airs on CBS national television at 12:30 p.m. ET, and it is matchup between the No. 1 and No. 4 teams in Division A. Team Las Vegas (2-0) defeated Team Union Home Mortgage 257-85.25 on Saturday night.
Every game at the METC is comprised of 12 collective outs, with each team attempting six bulls. Three riders per team, as selected by the General Manager, will attempt two bulls per game. The winner of each game will be the team with the top combined aggregate score from their six outs.
The Monster Energy Team Challenge features 12 teams, 48 bull riders and two Divisions (A & B). The Top 3 teams in each division, based upon win-loss record, will qualify for Championship Weekend and a single-elimination tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on July 10-12 in front of fans.
Lawrence, who went 1-for-2 in Team Cooper Tires victory over Team Can-Am on Friday, is back in the starting lineup Sunday. He has drawn Safety Meeting and Squeeze Box. Lawrence is 1-2 against Safety Meeting in his career.
The 31-year-old said it doesn’t matter to him which team they are facing, but did admit the early start time will be something unusual for the riders.
Team Cooper Tires vs. Team Union Home Mortgage is the final of the three games Sunday, and is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. local. Team Las Vegas (2-0) and Team Wrangler (0-2) square off at 7:30 a.m. local (RidePass/CBS Sports Network).
Team YETI has been shut out in back-to-back games, and will look to turn things around against Team Can-Am at 8:15 a.m. PT (RidePass/CBS Sports Network).
“That is going to be a little different,” Lawrence said. “We will probably have to be there around 5 or 5:30. I will make sure to set two or three alarms.”
Kimzey has been dealing with a nerve problem in his riding elbow since the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and it flares up every now and then.
Instead of attempting to push through a nerve injury, Kimzey told CBS Sports Network’s Kate Harrison that he knew Cooper Tires had a more than capable guy in Lawrence on the bench ready to step in.
Kimzey also explained that he expects to ride Sunday for Team Cooper Tires.
“I should be good tomorrow, it is just a nerve deal in my riding arm,” Kimzey said. “It is not really a big deal, but with that happening, you have a home run hitter like Stets sitting in the bullpen, you have to bring him in. It all worked out good.”
Kimzey has drawn Low Dog and Big Mac.
Keyshawn Whitehorse, who was put into the starting lineup Saturday by Cooper Tires General Manager Cody Lambert for Lawrence, clinched the victory over Team YETI with a 70-point ride on Wasted Nights.
Whitehorse will be the team’s alternate Sunday.  
Team Captain Jose Vitor Leme added another qualified ride for good measure with 85.25 points aboard 4 Bears. Leme was the only rider in Round 1 from either team to earn a qualified ride, converting on Beast of Burden for 85.25 points, and is a perfect 4-for-4 through two games.
Lawrence is now 2-for-3 in two games. He is sitting third in the league’s Built Ford Tough MVP race, which will be awarded to the rider who leads the METC in total aggregate score.
Lawrence’s ride on Keno was the highest by any rider in Division A through two nights of competition in Las Vegas.
Lawrence went undrafted a few weeks ago in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and was added to Team Cooper Tires by Leme and Lambert when 2016 PBR Brazil champion Dener Barbosa informed the PBR he could not make it back to the United States from Brazil in time for the METC.
The longtime PBR veteran said being overlooked by the 12 team captains has him motivated to show everyone what they are missing out on.
“That is a big driver anyways of the whole thing,” Lawrence said. “It keeps me looking to prove a point. I have a chip on my shoulder.”

Professional Bull Riders - Team Challenge - Game 6
Las Vegas, NV, 2020
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Jose Vitor Leme, 88.25-85.25-173.50
2. Stetson Lawrence, 0-88.5-88.50
3. Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-70-70.00
Cole Melancon, 0-0-0.00
Derek Kolbaba, 0-0-0.00
Eli Vastbinder, 0-0-0.00
Sage Steele Kimzey, 0-0-0.00
Jordan Spears, 0-0-0.00

By Justin Felisko | PBR.com