Casey Stoner was frustrated to lose out on pole position at Laguna Seca on Saturday.
The reigning MotoGP champion felt he never got a clean lap in during the crucial closing stages, despite holding pole as the chequered flag was waved.
Unlike many of his rivals, Stoner spent much of the session on the hard rear tyre - then took over at the top for the first and only time with two-minutes of the hour remaining, despite having to weave around Danilo Petrucci out of the final turn.
But the Australian's two subsequent laps proved slower and he was thus unable to prevent Yamaha's title leader Jorge Lorenzo snatching pole back by just 0.074s.
“I'm disappointed as I think we definitely had the potential for pole position,” said Stoner, the defending US GP winner.
“We spent most of the session with the hard tyre trying to improve our pace, we've been struggling with it all season when the temperatures aren't high enough to get it working and we had made a few steps and weren't too far off the pace.
“Then we put on the soft tyre and unfortunately we never got a clean lap.
“There was always a CRT bike in the way and considering we're 3-4 seconds a lap quicker than them, you come up on them pretty quick, no matter how big a gap you give them.
“Every lap was spoiled which is very frustrating as I really feel we could have been on pole but we'll have to settle for where we are.
“Tyre choice for the race will depend on the weather conditions tomorrow, I think we have the pace and longevity in the tyre for the soft, but if it's hot then we may have to try and make the hard work,” he concluded.
Stoner will race with the new RCV engine tomorrow as he seeks to reduce the 37 point gap to Lorenzo in the final event before the summer break.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa will start third on the grid.