Local hero Ben Spies couldn't repeat his 2010 Indianapolis MotoGP pole, but the Factory Yamaha rider provided the only real opposition to Casey Stoner and is confident for the race.
Spies, who took his first MotoGP win at Assen this year, finished the one-hour qualifying session 0.523sec from world championship leader Stoner (Honda) after a loose seat-spacer spoilt his final run.
"The last couple of laps we tried our hardest to catch Casey, but with five minutes to go I think I ripped my tank spacer off that holds me back on the bike which didn't help," said Spies. "I wasn't disappointed as I knew we had a gap to fourth so we'd be on the front row.
"It wasn't the perfect session and Casey was just too fast. I think the race will be different; the tyres will be pretty greasy after ten laps but my bike's working really well on used tyres so we'll see what happens."
Tyre endurance on the new Indy asphalt looks set to be a major factor in the race and Spies believes he has a set-up that can go the distance.
"We did over 30 laps on a set of tyres and went quite quick at the end, still able to do 39s which is good," said the 2010 Indy runner-up.
Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg has no doubts about what Spies can achieve on Sunday.
"Ben has been spot on the whole weekend and I think he will be a big contender for the victory for tomorrow," he said.
Team-mate and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo will start third on the grid after qualifying 0.779sec from pole.