Beam Joins PPI NASCAR Effort

HICKORY, N.C. - has learned that Mike Beam has joined Cal Wells’ NASCAR Winston Cup Series operations as the senior team manager at PPI Motorsports.

One of the more well-known and respected figures in the Winston Cup garage area, Beam brings with him a wealth of knowledge to Wells’ operation, which heads into its second year at NASCAR’s top level. The rookie season for both Wells and driver Scott Pruett in 2000 was not a good one as their efforts saw them finish 37th in points, fail to qualify for seven races and post only one Top 10 finish.

Beam takes over a now multi-car operation that appears to be in disarray, as some reports have had it that Pruett may be on his way out of the No. 32 Tide Ford. But according to a PPI team spokesperson Thursday, the only change that had officially been made within the Wells camp so far is the addition of Beam.

Beam will head up the efforts to turn things around for the No. 32 Taurus and to get the first-year McDonald’s Ford team, with driver Andy Houston, off to a good start in 2001.

"I’m excited about it, most definitely," Beam said in an exclusive telephone interview from the team’s race shop Thursday. "There are a lot of resources here, which is what I was looking for. They definitely have it all here. There’s some work to be done, and I’m going to try and help them get it steered in the right direction. With this being a new team, they were just trying to survive last season.

"But when I came over here and took a look at their facility, I talked to the people and they said they all liked working here and they really wanted to do well. Once you walk into this shop, you can see how dedicated Cal Wells is to making this team work."

Coming off a two-year stint as the crew chief of the No. 21 Ford at Wood Brothers Racing, Beam is indeed going to have to do a lot of work over the short winter break, especially with the addition of another team.

When asked if he expected Pruett to be back as the driver of the No. 32 Ford, Beam was hesitant to answer. The deal for Pruett to drive a second season for Wells has yet to be completed.

"I know Cal and his people are working on it right now, but that’s all I know about it," Beam said. "Cal is committed to making it work with whatever is best for the team and sponsor. But that’s all I know about it because I’ve been concentrating my efforts out in the shop area."

One look at Beam’s prior credentials as a crew chief prove that he may just be the man to turn this struggling operation around. Beam has crew chiefed the efforts of some of NASCAR’s star drivers, such as Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin, Kyle Petty and Michael Waltrip.

Now his job is to pull off a repeat performance at PPI.

"I’m excited," Beam said. "But I think that when you look at what I have to work with here, I should be excited. We’ve got over 100 people here working. We use Robert Yates motors and have a lot of tools to work with. We do have the resources, now it’s just a matter of making it work. I’m just mainly going to try and bring in some experience. They felt like that was where they needed the most help."

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