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PPI Motorsports

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PPI Motorsports
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PPI Motorsports was a Sprint Cup Series formed with Michael Waltrip Racing to form Waltrip-PPI Racing. They will field the the #00 Burger King/Dominos Pizza Toyota Camry driven by David Reutimann in 2007. The team was forced to close last season after bad performances and financial trouble. The partnership was dissolved in 2008 with Cal Well moving to a management role at Michael Waltrip Racing.[[1]]

Early yearsEdit

PPI stands for Precision Preparation, Inc., a company founded by team owner Cal Wells in 1979. The company originally provided parts for off-road racing teams. Over time, PPI eventually began its own off-road team, with help with Toyota Motorsports. PPI fielded off-road trucks for Mickey Thompson's SCORE series and then later fielded trucks which competed in outdoor events such as the Baja 1000. Notable drivers to drive for PPI include Ivan "Ironman" Stewart and a young Robby Gordon (who also drove in CART for the team in 1998).

PPI's relationship with Toyota expanded into the open-wheel ranks in 1995, when Wells formed a CART team with good friend Frank Arciero. Their initial driver was Hiro Matsushita. Known as Arciero-Wells, the CART team lasted for 5 years but only a managed a best finish of 4th in 1999 with rookie Cristiano da Matta. In 1996, they began the CART season with Jeff Krosnoff driving, but he died in a tragic accident during the Toronto street race. All PPI cars carry a decal commemorating Krossnoff's memory. After Arciero left in 2000, the team was re branded as PPI Motorsports, and da Matta gave the team its first (and only) career victory in CART. During this time, the team also ran a program in the Toyota Atlantic series, and had success in 2000 with rookie of the year Dan Wheldon. Following the 2000 season, however, PPI shut down its open-wheel and off-road programs, ended its relationship with Toyota, and shifted its focus exclusively on NASCAR.

PPI also competed in Toyota Atlantic from 1998-2000, winning races with Anthony Lazzaro, Andrew Bordin, and Dan Wheldon. Lazzaro won the championship for the team in 1999.

NASCAR YearsEdit

PPI started its first Cup team during the 2000 season with open-wheel and Trans Am standout Scott Pruett behind the wheel. The team was hardly a success in its first year, finishing in 37th place and failing to qualify for a number of races. Pruett was released at the end of the season and returned to Trans-Am.

With the team focusing exclusively on NASCAR in 2001, PPI fielded a two car Winston Cup effort, with Ricky Craven taking over in the "Tide ride", and former Camping World Truck Series star Andy Houston taking over in a second car sponsored by McDonald's. Houston's team was shut down before season's end due to a lack of good results. Craven, however, had a number of strong races, which was capped by Craven giving the team its first career victory at Martinsville in October. He finished 21st in the championship that year.

Craven ran strong in 2002 and, although he failed to win a race for the team, he managed to improve his championship standing and finishing 15th overall. He started 2003 in the same way, with a strong top-5 at Rockingham and a famous victory at Darlington, which saw Craven beat Kurt Busch to the finish by a matter of inches. However, a rash of DNF's dropped Craven to 27th in the final standings.

PPI showed clear signs of struggling in 2004 as Craven was unable to give the team a single top-10 finish through the first 24 races. Wells fired Craven due to his lack of results and Nationwide Series driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. took his place. Hamilton drove the car for the entire 2005 season. However, he failed to score a top-ten during the year, and eventually finished 36th. Wells did have some success after replacing Hamilton with road course ringer Ron Fellows at Sonoma, with Ron giving the team an eighth place finish. Hamilton has been replaced by Travis Kvapil, who will race the car for the 2006 season. In 2007 Kvapil will move on to trucks and the team will close. On Febuary 10, 2007 PPI signed a contract to team up with Michael Waltrip Racing to form Waltrip-PPI Racing. They will field the the #00 Burger King/Dominos Pizza Toyota Camry driven by David Reutimann.

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