The leading American during Saturday's Independence Day qualifying session at Laguna Seca was Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards, but the 35-year-old - who injured his finger in a morning fall - could only manage seventh on the grid.
“The bike felt better than yesterday but I'm still not completely happy and I've still got a few issues to iron out before the race,” he said. “I made a mistake this morning and did a bit of damage to a finger on my right hand, but nothing that is giving me too many problems.
“It wasn't fun though high-siding at Turn 10 because that's not a slow corner. I was on my head and then my back, so just to take a fingernail off I feel pretty lucky. But the big issue is the feeling from the front-end. I've got too much movement and as soon as I go into the corner it doesn't feel stable at all.
“To be seventh I'm pretty happy because I didn't feel like I could push as hard as I want or need to. But if I can eliminate a couple of problems in the warm-up I'm confident of a good race.
“I know it is going to be tough to get a podium tomorrow but I'll be giving it my all for the American fans and for Monster. There are a lot of people here to support me on a big weekend for America and I'm determined to give them a good result.”
Team-mate James Toseland faired far worse, and will start a nightmare 15th on the grid at a traditionally tough-to-pass track.
“It was a tough session and pretty obvious that we've got a lot of work to do,” said the Englishman. “After such a good race in Assen when we made massive progress with the set-up of the bike, I just can't get the same confident feeling I had last weekend.
“I wasn't pushing too hard at the last corner when the front tucked and I was down. I was running a different setting on the front and I never really felt comfortable with it.”
Toseland also suffered a fall during the session.
“The crash forced me to switch to the spare bike and we tried a new setting on the front and it just didn't really work,” he said. “I'm nowhere near where I expected to be and that is disappointing. But as always I'll be working as hard as ever with my guys to find some improvements for the race.”