PHOTO: Phil Scott became the first-known sitting Lieutenant Governor to win a stock car race at Barre’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl on Friday. (Leif Tillotson photo)

BARRE — Phil Scott may not have been crowned ‘king’ at Barre’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl on Friday night, but he added a bullet point to his political resume anyway. By winning the Aubuchon Hardware 100 Late Model championship finale, Scott became the first known sitting lieutenant governor to win a stock car race.

Previously a five-term state senator, Scott was elected to his current post — the second-highest government rank in Vermont — last November. In fact, he was acting Governor during his qualifying heat race earlier in the evening, as Governor Peter Shumlin was out of state until about 8:00pm.

Before entering politics, though, Scott was a two-time Thunder Road champion. A third title came during the end of his first term as a Washington County senator in 2002 — the same year he also won championships at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and on the traveling American-Canadian Tour. His 27 victories at Thunder Road are the most ever recorded in the headline Late Model division.

Scott said his political colleagues likely don’t hold his racing hobby or his victories in as high a regard as he does.

“It may not mean as much to them,” Scott said, “but it means a lot to me.”

The win was Scott’s first of the year and boosted him into the championship runner-up position. After starting 15th on the 27-car field, Scott was bumped in a crash on lap 13 but was able to stay moving without major damage. He passed sophomore driver Cody Blake of Barre for the lead on lap 38 and drove away for a dominant win.

“We’ve been knocking on the door all year,” said Scott, who had four third-place finishes during the season and was spun out of the lead at the Mid-Season Championship event in July. “Circumstances have put us out of the running a couple of times that I thought [a win] was within grasp, so it’s really satisfying to finally pull one off.”

The victory was strikingly reminiscent of the championship capper in 2009, when he started 17th, was involved in a crash, and eventually posted his first win of the year in a 100-lap feature. He finished second for the championship, 41 points behind Jean-Paul Cyr, a difference of two starting positions and five points.

“I was in a unique position, I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t playing defense, I could play offense and go after it,” said Scott, who has finished in championship contention nearly every year since his first title season in 1996.

Despite having a decade-long dry spell for championships, Scott says the pursuit is what he enjoys.

“It never gets old. Of course you’d like to win, but there is something about chasing, there’s something about racing, there’s something about putting it all out there and not having to worry about the consequences,” he said. “I like the competition and I like to race hard.”

Scott said that in his first year with the added responsibility of being second in command for the state of Vermont, he was still able to find a balance between duty and fun. He hopes to be able to run a full season in 2012, but knows he’ll have other items on his plate.

“I enjoy doing what I did this year [but 2012] is going to be a campaign next year, so I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’d like to continue to race Thursday nights, so we’ll wait and see,” Scott said. It was obvious that he’d like to become the first governor to be a winning racer, either as the holder of the office or as the temporary replacement; under Vermont law, the lieutenant governor serves as acting governor when the governor is outside the state’s borders. Shumlin made it back into the Green Mountains just before Scott’s victory.

“We came within two hours tonight of having the acting governor win a race,” Scott chuckled. “He’s been out of state for the last week, he’s been on vacation in Canada. Right before we went out for the feature, I checked my phone quite regularly to make sure with my contact, and they said that he had just entered the state. We came close.”

Scott joked that maybe a flat tire on Shumlin’s car would have helped the cause.

“I would never wish that on anybody,” he laughed.

Blake, 19, posted his best career finish in second place. After Scott passed him, Blake fended off a constant challenge from Mike Bailey, who in turn had pressure from Scott Payea. Blake, Bailey, and Payea finished 2-3-4. John Donahue was fifth.

Dave Pembroke on Montpelier finished seventh to secure his second Late Model “King of the Road” championship.

Mike Martin of Craftsbury Common took his first career Tiger Sportsman victory in that division’s 35-lap feature race. Martin made a banzai three-wide move to take the lead before the halfway point, then held off rookie Dylan Payea of Henniker, N.H., for the win. Apparent third-place finisher Blair Bessett was disqualified for an illegal carburetor, handing the position to Barre’s Jason Allen. Jason Corliss and Bobby Therrien completed the top five. Derrick O’Donnell protected his point lead with a ninth-place finish.

Former Bear Ridge Speedway dirt track champion Tom Placey of Bradford earned his career asphalt win in the 25-lap Street Stock feature. Placey walked away over the second half of the race for the victory, followed by rookie Ken Christman of Cabot and Al Maynard of Fairfax. M.C. Ingram and rookie Cameron Ouellette were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Williamstown’s Brock Parrott won a bizarre two-segment Junkyard Warrior race for his third victory of the year. With only four cars in attendance, race director Tom Curley had the competitors start four abreast in the opposite direction in Turn 1, make a U-turn at the start/finish line, and then run three regular laps around the track. The finish was inverted and then the field ran one lap around the track, one lap through the infield pit road at full speed, and one final lap on the track. At the finish, Parrott was scored ahead of Danny Brassard, Jason Woodard, and Kevin Wheatley.

Thunder Road’s next event is the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic on September 3-4. The American-Canadian Tour will race 200 laps, and point battles continue for the Sportsman, Street Stock, and Warrior classes.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Aubuchon Hardware/Benjamin Moore Night
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Friday, August 26, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

ACT Late Model (100 laps)
1. Phil Scott, Berlin
2. Cody Blake, Barre
3. Mike Bailey, South Barre
4. Scott Payea, Milton
5. John Donahue, Graniteville
6. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
7. Dave Pembroke, Montpelier — 2011 Track Champion
8. Reno Gervais, Island Pond
9. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
10. Nick Sweet, Barre

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman (35 laps)
1. Mike Martin, Craftsbury Common
2. # Dylan Payea, Henniker, N.H.
3. Jason Allen, Barre
4. Jason Corliss, Danville
5. Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg
6. Matt Potter, Marshfield
7. Tony Rossi, Peacham
8. Eric Badore, Milton
9. Derrick O’Donnell, Bradford
10. Chris Pelkey, South Barre

Allen Lumber Street Stock (25 laps)
1. Tom Placey, Bradford
2. # Ken Christman, Cabot
3. Al Maynard, Fairfax
4. M.C. Ingram, Essex Junction
5. # Cameron Ouellette, Barre
6. Dave Whitcomb, Elmore
7. Greg Adams, Jr., Hardwick
8. Jason Kenison, Groveton, N.H.
9. Troy Kingsbury, Waitsfield
10. Bunker Hodgdon, Hardwick

Junkyard Warrior (6 laps)
1. Brock Parrott, Williamstown
2. Danny Brassard, East Randolph
3. Jason Woodard, Waterbury
4. Kevin Wheatley, Williamstown