ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- Richard and Maurice Petty. David Pearson and Leonard Wood. Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham.
Now, Dale Jarrett and Todd Parrott are on the verge of joining some of the sport's great driver-crew chief combinations. They won their second Daytona 500 together last Sunday after taking the series championship last season.
The best matchups seem to share one characteristic -- chemistry.
''You can't overemphasize how important it is to have a mutual respect when you work together day after day like we do,'' said Jarrett, who's won three Daytona 500s and 23 races overall.
It's a natural bond, says Parrott, now preparing their Ford for the Dura Lube 400 on Sunday in Rockingham, N.C.
Parrott's father, Buddy, who manages the teams of Mark Martin and Jeff Burton, was one of the sport's greatest crew chiefs. Jarrett's father, Ned, a TV commentator, was the series champion in 1961 and 1965.
''We grew up around it and we're doing something we both love,'' Todd Parrott said. ''We have a lot of the same goals and a lot of the same motivation. Why should it surprise anybody that we're winning together?''
There wasn't much waiting for success for Jarrett and Parrott. They won the first time out, in the season-opening 1996 Daytona 500.
''There will never be anything to replace that first victory,'' Parrott said.
But winning again last Sunday came close.
''If you work hard enough for something, if you want something bad enough and are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes, and you have confidence in your driver, your team, yourself, you can accomplish those goals,'' Parrott said. ''On Sunday, you saw living proof of that.''
The crew chief said the keys to the relationship -- and the success so far -- is respect and complete trust.
Evidence of that came last Saturday when Jarrett, the favorite to win the Daytona 500, was in a fender-bender that damaged his Robert Yates Racing Ford during the last practice session at Daytona International Speedway.
Parrott stewed over the wrinkled car, then flew in reinforcements from the team's shop in Charlotte, N.C. He and his crew worked late into the night and came back again at 5 a.m. to finish in time to have the car in pristine condition for the race.
There were questions about whether the car would handle the same because of the damage. But the team didn't want to go to its backup car because Jarrett would have been forced to the rear of the field.
Jarrett said he knew four laps into the race that he still had the best car. Parrott gets much of the credit for all his work on the No. 88 Ford just before the race.
''I was with Todd for a couple of hours, trying to figure out what needed to be done,'' Jarrett said. ''Then I went out to the motorhome.''
The driver ate dinner with his wife, Kelley , lay down on the couch at about 7:45 p.m. and fell asleep.
''After a while, Kelley woke me long enough to get me to bed,'' he said. ''It's the best night's rest I've had in a long time.''
When he climbed into his Taurus on Sunday, Jarrett was calm and confident.
''If Todd puts it out there, I have confidence in it,'' he said.
The feeling is mutual.
''I love Dale Jarrett like he was part of my family,'' said Parrott, the more emotional of the two. ''Really, he is like family. He knows I'd walk through walls for him, and I believe he'd do the same for me.''
Jarrett and Parrott believe they are primed to go after another title, and a victory Sunday might be a sign that the combo is an overwhelming favorite to take the title again. Jarrett is yet to win at The Rock, but has finished second in six of his last eight starts and fourth in the race last fall.
''The key is consistency,'' said Jarrett, who won the championship in a romp last year by finishing in the top five 24 times and the top 10 29 times in 34 starts. ''We know we have a team that is capable of finishing races and running consistently near the front.''
Knowing Parrott has the car and the vaunted Yates engines at their peak for each race makes Jarrett's job much easier.
Parrott says the team was a little behind in building cars for this season because of changes to the 2000 Taurus.
''But we're going to be ready for whatever they throw at us,'' he said.
If the Daytona 500 is any indication, that can't be argued.
''We've both been around long enough to know that there's always things that come up that you don't expect and aren't ready for,'' Parrott said. ''But with the team and driver we've got, we'll get it done.''
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