Fellow drivers united behind Bubba Wallace prior to Monday's Nascar race at Talladega as investigations continued into the noose left in the garage of the association's only black full-time driver.
Dozens of drivers pushed Wallace's number 43 car to the front of the field at the Alabama speedway in a show of solidarity with the 26-year-old, who was made visibly emotional by the gesture.
Wallace leaned against the side of his car with his head buried in his folded arms before being hugged by the team's 82-year-old owner "The King" Richard Petty, who made the trip to the track to support his driver despite the threat of the novel coronavirus.
"The pre-race deal was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to witness," said Wallace afterwards.
"From all of the supporters, from drivers, from crew members, everybody here, the bad ass fan base thank you guys for coming out.
"It was truly incredible and I am proud to be a part of this sport.
It came as the FBI launched an investigation into who left the noose in Wallace's team garage on Sunday.
The act followed a successful campaign by Wallace to have the Confederate flag banned from Nascar events in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Wallace came home 14th but still declared victory after two days of racial turmoil that rocked the sport.
"Sorry I'm not wearing my mask but I wanted to show whoever it was that (placed the noose in his garage) you are not going to take away my smile," Wallace, told a trackside reporter after walking over to the fence to salute a few of the 5,000 spectators, some wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, allowed into the race. "I am going to keep on going.
"I know I should've won that damn race but we ran out of gas. Just the stars didn't align for us completely but all in all we won today."
A host of other drivers also took to social media to express their support for the 26-year-old.
Ryan Blaney, who went on to win Monday's race, called Watson his "brother".
"You're my brother and always will be," he tweeted. "Don't let the people who are lower than life to try and bring you down. They won't scare you because you're strong. I stand with you pal. Forever."
Alex Bowman also expressed his appreciation for Watson's efforts in fighting for what he believed in.
He said on Twitter: "We may not always get along the greatest, but I have a ton of appreciation for the person @BubbaWallace is and everything he's doing to push us all to be better."
Watson went on to finish Monday's race in 14th place.
Meanwhile, Talladega County Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore said Nascar had contacted the FBI, which was handling the investigation into the noose.
The FBI field office in Birmingham did not immediately return a message.
The incident has rocked Nascar, which returned to racing just last month because of the Covid-19 pandemic.