But while the factory Yamaha riders were exchanging congratulations, man of the moment Hayden was already releasing the masses of frustration and pressure which had been building for the past few seasons. The Kentuckian had punching the air with delight as he crossed the line, then picking up an American flag for the remainder of an emotional, and animated, slow down lap that saw the 58,000 strong crowd hailing their hero...
...And when he got back to pit lane, Nicky picked up something a lot more valuable than the flag - his Dad! In what was later explained as a repeat of the celebrations that followed Nicky's first major dirt track win many years ago, Earl hopped on the back of the factory RCV before his son set off for a second slow down lap! Few, except maybe a few Dorna officials, saw it as anything other than a brilliant moment.
Behind the top three, Biaggi crossed the line two-seconds from Rossi after winning a tough duel with Gibernau, which had lasted ever since the corkscrew pass on lap 3, while a massive 18-seconds would separate the Movistar Honda rider from sixth placed Bayliss.
Bayliss, Tamada, Hopkins and Nakano delivered one of the best battles of the event as they disputed the position; the Australian held firm at the head of the group for much of the race, but Tamada put a brave pass to dive inside Hopkins for seventh into turn one on lap 26.
The sole factory Ducati to reach the flag was Loris Capirossi, who finished almost three-seconds from Nakano on a day when team-mate Carlos Checa crashed out of seventh place on lap 9, the Spaniard losing the front into the turn 2 hairpin.
The fourth American in the field, Kenny Roberts, recorded a forgettable fourteenth place at the flag, but at least his father - Kenny Roberts
Sr - was able to watch his rider Shane Byrne finish 15th for Team Roberts' first world championship point of the season.
US Grand Prix: