Nicky Hayden became the first factory Ducati rider other than Casey Stoner to stand on a MotoGP podium since Loris Capirossi in 2007, in front of his home fans in Sunday's Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Second as a Repsol Honda rider in last year's storm-shortened race, Hayden didn't even want to talk about a podium repeat ahead of the 2009 event - after such a tough first season with Ducati.
Hayden came into round twelve with a best finish of fifth and 14th in the world championship, but left with a third place finish and twelfth in the standings.
The American, riding in a special patriotic livery for race day, held his dry-qualifying best of sixth in the early stages, which became fifth and then fourth when Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi crashed ahead of him.
A pass on countryman Colin Edwards put Hayden into a rostrum position by lap 10 of 28, but he had to fight hard to hold off Repsol replacement and 2009 race winner Andrea Dovizioso in the closing stages.
Under intense pressure, Hayden held on to cross the finish line half-a-second clear of the Italian and to cheers of approval from the 75,000 fans.
“It feels great to be on the podium here at Indianapolis and I want to thank all the team, my friends, family and fans for their support,” said Hayden. “It's been a hard season. Certainly been the biggest challenge of my life to try to understand this bike and team, but we've slowly made some progress, progress, progress.
“I didn't want to open my mouth, but I knew I had a chance at the podium today. I knew, like Lorenzo said, that the pace at the front is so high that something could happen, and I had to be there to capitalise on it.
“We were able to put ourself in a good position, caught a couple breaks, couple guys tipped over, and got on the podium, I'm really happy. It's not a win, but it feels really good being up there and spraying the bubbly. I'm just going to try to enjoy it.