Having declined the services of Ben Spies in favour of retaining Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen for the 2009 MotoGP season, it must have been something of a bittersweet experienced for Rizla Suzuki to watch the triple AMA Superbike champion advertising his abilities to rival teams by qualifying fifth on the grid at Indy - while team-mates Capirossi and Vermeulen were left 13th and 15th.
Indianapolis marks the third and final scheduled appearance for Spies on a GSV-R and, whilst he is the only rider present this weekend to have taken part in July's two-day tyre test, his lack of MotoGP mileage more than cancels that advantage out.
Spies' previous best qualifying position was eighth in the wet at Donington Park and he will now be aiming to beat his best MotoGP race finish of eighth in the dry at Laguna Seca, whatever the weather brings at Indy on Sunday.
"It was a good session this afternoon and we tried various things on both bikes. I went back to the primary bike that we had done most work on and looked at the race set-up until we were happy with that and then put on the qualifiers," said the Texan, who was just 0.287secs from a front row start.
"I just went faster and faster every time I went out, those Bridgestone qualifiers are just unbelievable and it took me a time to find the limit of them, so I am sure I could go quicker with a bit more time using them!
"Fifth place is a good spot and the second row will be a good place to start - if the weather is going to be as bad as they say - so that I can be ahead of any of the drama that might happen. I am now really looking forward to the race because everything has gone well so far this weekend.
"I just appreciate everybody that's rooting me on. I see all the fans, and every time I come around they are giving me the thumbs up and yelling. I appreciate it, and I'm giving it all to represent the whole US," declared Spies, linked with a JiR Honda ride for 2009.
"Congratulations to Ben, he'll be starting on the second row tomorrow and that should give him a great chance in only his third grand prix," said Rizla team manager Paul Denning. "He's done a great job so far this weekend and let's hope the potential he has shown can continue into tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Capirossi and Vermeulen will both start from the fifth row of the grid after a difficult qualifying session. Capirossi is still looking for the best setting, while Vermeulen - second in the wet on Friday - crashed on his second qualifying attack.
"Chris and Loris's qualifying was less successful for different reasons. Chris showed good pace on race tyres, but a decent sized crash on his second qualifying run meant he had to swap to the spare bike and he just couldn't improve as it was difficult for him to get the feel immediately," said Denning. "Loris has had a difficult weekend so far for a number of technical reasons and although it got quite a bit better today there is still a lot of work to do to get things improved for the race tomorrow."