Ben Spies proved just why he will take Valentino Rossi's vacant factory Yamaha ride next season, as he led a MotoGP race for the first time on his way to a best ever second place in his home Indianapolis Grand Prix.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was beaten only by Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and finished ahead of both factory M1 riders - Rossi and 2010 title leader Jorge Lorenzo - for the first time.
Rookie Spies, starting from his debut pole position, led the early part of the race, then comfortably held off Lorenzo after Pedrosa took the lead on lap seven of 28.
"It was my first time leading a GP race. I think I led for about 10 feet at Brno. But here I actually led for a few laps," said Spies. "Again, the pace wasn't fast enough to lead for half the race or anything like that, but I don't think I made too many mistakes when I was out front.
"We were consistent, just wasn't fast enough, but were comfortable, so that was key.
"When Dani came by, you know, his bike was quite quick on the straightaway - but he was riding really well and not making any mistakes and getting off the corner really well.
"We couldn't follow him but I just tried to let him pull me away from third and then manage as much as I could. So I think once he got out to his gap, he could manage it, too. And I congratulate him, he rode a great race.
"We can't complain. We got the pole yesterday and had a good start today and led some laps. I saw a lot of crash marks out there and I knew some people were hitting the ground, and it was quite easy to make a mistake. But in the end we had to ride 100 percent the whole time with only a three-second gap.
"So I'm happy for all the friends and family and fans that are here to get a second in an American Grand Prix for my first season. It hasn't soaked in yet, but I'll try to go and enjoy it a little bit and hop on a plane and do it again next weekend."
Like most of the field, Spies used the softer rear tyre - only Pedrosa and team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, plus Ducati's Casey Stoner and Spies' team-mate Colin Edwards started with the harder option. It proved the right choice - Edwards had to make a pit stop to change to the softer option.