MotoGP title leader Jorge Lorenzo snatched his fourth consecutive US MotoGP pole on the final sector of his final lap in Saturday's qualifying session at Laguna Seca.
Watched from the pits by Yamaha legend Wayne Rainey, Lorenzo led for most of the hour long session - setting a new pole record with six minutes to go.
But reigning champion Casey Stoner suddenly surged ahead with just two minutes remaining, despite having to weave around Danilo Petrucci out of the final turn.
Lorenzo was left lagging for much of his final lap, but overturned the deficit in the final sector to snatch pole back by just 0.074s.
Stoner's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa will start on the outside of the front row in third, while Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies was left shaken by a heavy accident on his way to fourth.
After a foggy morning session, in which Pedrosa and Casey Stoner didn't even complete a lap, bright and sunny - if relatively cool - conditions returned for the tenth qualifying session of the season.
Soft rear tyres were the popular choice from the start, with Lorenzo making his intentions clear by setting the best lap of the weekend after just seven minutes.
Spies was the only rider to break the Lorenzo-Pedrosa-Stoner top three domination, slipping into third with just under 20 minutes to go. The Texan was still holding the position when he suffered his unseen accident, which left him clearly wobbly as he got to his feet.
The #11, who recently announced that he will leave Yamaha at the end of the year, was still visibly shaken as he arrived back in the pits. Spies returned to the track for the final minutes but didn't improve.