Ben Spies began his first home grand prix as a full time MotoGP rider by being the top American, as well as top satellite rider, during Friday practice at Laguna Seca.
The reigning World Superbike champion, who hopes to better his Silverstone third this weekend, was fifth fastest for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 and the second best M1 rider after title leader Jorge Lorenzo (second).
Significantly, both Spies and team-mate Colin Edwards have been given an ungraded engine specification by Yamaha to help their chances this weekend.
Laguna Seca is also the first 2010 event which Spies has previously raced at in MotoGP.
“It is funny but I know this track so well, yet having not been here for a while it took me a bit of time to remember it," said Spies. "I'm pretty happy to be in the top five after the first session and I'm also pleased with the lap times by the end.
"Coming home and being in front of my home crowd, I can't be disappointed with my position after the first day. I'm sure we can make the bike a lot better because I had a couple of small issues that are easy to fix. I want the bike to absorb the bumps a little better but it is nothing that is really holding me back too much.
"We got an upgrade and I'm grateful to Yamaha for that and I'm definitely in the ballpark for the rest of the weekend. I need a few tenths per lap but I think I can be much closer to the front tomorrow. At the end I put in a string of laps that weren't super-fast, but I was really consistent and I'm happy with that.”
Edwards was 0.331sec slower than Spies in eighth.
“I'm really happy to be back on home soil and racing in front of the American fans and I'm also happy because the practice session went pretty good," said Edwards. "The track felt the cleanest it has ever done on the first day and I was happy with the bike to show more of my true potential.
"I'm happier with the performance of the bike and I want to say a big thanks to Yamaha for giving me their support as always. The improved specification just makes it feel easier and more comfortable to do the lap time and I'm confident of a strong weekend.”