The ever growing nationwide popularity of both the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster classes have converted many of today's best racers to join the fun of competing in the very quick qualified categories. Ramona, California's, Chip Rumis is fortunate enough to not only compete in both classes, but do very well in them. Thanks to two final rounds and numerous other round wins during the season, Rumis recently finished the season by being crowned the 2011 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Div 7 Top Sportsman Champion, as well as the highest point earner in Top Sportsman and number two in Top Dragster for a special program from K&N Engineering offered in Division 7, the K&N Top Qualifier Series.
2011 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Div 7 Top Sportsman Champion Chip Rumis
Chip Rumis' Top Sportsman 2005 Jerry Bickel Chevy Cobalt
While Rumis did very well in his 2011 Spitzer Top Dragster, grabbing a victory early in the season during the spring divisional event at Las Vegas where he nearly doubled up, also making it to the Top Sportsman final during the same race. It wouldn't be the only time he would visit the final at the Las Vegas facility. Rumis returned during the fall divisional event in his Top Sportsman entry and while he just missed the Wally, the Top Sportsman Championship was all his.
"Joe, my race partner called me and told me that I had led the Top Sportsman points [in division 7] all the way through the season," Rumis told with a smile. "I didn't really realize that, until he told me. I guess I kinda remember that, but I think I was like twenty-three or twenty-five points in front of the guy in second going into the last Vegas race. There were about four people who could have potentially caught me."
During the race, Rumis was not only trying to take care of business in his own rounds, but he was also paying very close attention to those other drivers that could take away his moment of glory. He got past LaFlam in round one and got a nice easy pass in round two when John Baker did not stage in time and was fouled out. But he would have to wait one more day, before he would learn his fate not only for the race, but for the championship when the race was called for the day as temperatures became too cold to continue any on-track activities.
When Monday and round three rolled around, Rumis took down Darryn O'Connor after putting together a much better reaction time and forcing O'Conner to take way too much stripe. At this point, he was now aware that three of his potential championship foes had been eliminated, only one remained and he would face him in the next round.
"I knew if I could take him [Richard Okerman] out, then the championship was mine," explained Rumis. "If he got by me, then he would have to go on to win the race to make it happen."
"The prize was the championship," he admitted. "As much as I love the K&N shootout and even winning the race itself, it was all immaterial compared to winning the championship. My frame of mind was that I was there to do business. I had worked very hard all year to get into this position and I just stayed focused."
Both drivers threw everything at each other but the kitchen sink, from killer reaction times to running dead-on their dial type numbers and when the dust settled at the stripe, the margin was a mere .0022 or seven inches. Chip Rumis has put together a .008 reaction time and a perfect 6.840 on his 6.84 dial and by doing so was the new NHRA Div 7 Top Sportsman Champion.
"It was pretty exciting not to have a bunch of blockers on my side of the fence and be able to take out the guy I needed to," he said. "That round was a pretty exciting one, it was very close. I was looking at him and back at the finish line. I kinda caught his light [driver winlight] and I didn't see it come on. I flipped back over to see if my light came on and you know, I'm throwing the parachute, running two-hundred and some miles-per-hour, trying to gather up the car. I don't see my light, I really just see a little flicker. So I get to the top [end] and I don't know who won."
"I kinda thought I won and I took my helmet off and walked up to shake his hand and he says congratulations to me," he continued. "At that point and time it was like wow, I really did it. Then getting the time slip and seeing the two-thou stripe. I have about thirty mile-per-hour on him and to see our numbers was just great, a run like that for the championship."
Rumis went on to make his second Top Sportsman divisional final of the season at Las Vegas in his 2005 Jerry Bickel Cobalt. "The rest of the day was kinda anticlimactic," he confessed. "The car spun a little in the final and I just wasn't going to be able to get there. But it was really OK, I won the championship."
"It was a very accomplished year," said Rumis, who runs both his cars with just the help of his wife, Jean. "I also finished number five in my Top Dragster. I am so blessed, I really couldn't ask for more."
With the Top Sportsman season finished, Rumis entered his car in a Comp Eliminator class for the NHRA National at Pomona, where he admits he had a lot of fun and has already been working with his engine builder, Steve Schmidt on a new combination to take on a few more Comp events in 2012.
"Winning this championship had a lot to do with all of the support that I have," he added. "K&N has just been awesome. Their scoops helped me pick up mile-per-hour and the new K&N scoop that I will be putting on for next year is expected to pick up even more and that's just huge to be able to pick up like that. I thank Schmidt for the fantastic motors and Jim Hughes on the tranny and converter combinations plus LAT Racing Oil in both my motors and transmissions. Of course, everything that I have is protected by K&N filters and I just wouldn't have it any other way. Nothing but the best if you hope to have a chance to win."
Congratulations to Chip Rumis on his very first NHRA Championship from K&N Engineering!
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