MotoGP rookie Ben Spies believes he could have claimed his first ever front row start on Saturday at his home Laguna Seca round - but was denied by Mika Kallio's accident.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider had looked a serious threat for the front row earlier in the session, when he jumped into the top three with just over 20 minutes remaining at the spectacular California circuit.
The Texan then slipped down the rankings as the action intensified, but looked on course to return to the top three on his final lap, only to lose precious time when Kallio crashed at the legendary Corkscrew section.
Spies ended up missing a maiden front row by just 0.062sec, but now has his sights firmly set on a home podium.
“It's a little frustrating to be so close to my first front row but I'm still really happy with fifth position," began Ben. "The last stint was good and I was actually on a front row lap for sure at the end. I was a tenth quicker and then Kallio unfortunately crashed at the Corkscrew.
"I saw a big dust cloud and yellow flags were being waved. I was really scared that someone was on the downhill part because you can't see going in there. I wanted to play it safe and I lost a tenth there for sure and that definitely kept me off the front row.
"I'm happy being in the middle of row two and, besides Casey and Lorenzo, I'm in the battle for the podium and that's where I want to be. I couldn't be happier with that and if I get a good start and stay out of trouble then I have the pace to fight for the podium.
"For the win, those guys are going way too fast now. You never give up but they are on another level right now from everybody. I'll ride as hard as I can and have some fun in front of the home fans," he declared.
Spies is the only satellite rider to take a podium so far this season, courtesy of third at Silverstone.
Team-mate and countryman Colin Edwards secured his best grid position since the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello with eighth place.
Edwards is still unsure whether he will use the soft or hard Bridgestone rear tyre for his all-important home race.
“I've been riding really hard all weekend and giving it my all for the home fans, but I seem to be stuck around seventh and eighth position. I'm not sure what else I can do because I'm putting in my maximum effort and feel good on the bike," he admitted.
"The goal is to try and get away with the bunch from Dovizioso down because the top two are way ahead of the rest of us. I need to find some speed in the final section where I lose a bit too much time and now we've got to figure out which rear tyre to use in the race.
"I was convinced yesterday that I'd run the hard option front and rear. But now I'm considering the soft rear. There's quite a big difference in lap time but I'm wondering how good the soft tyre will be at the end of the race. This is a really important race for me and for Monster so I'll be giving my all for a strong result tomorrow.”