While the gap between first and second continued to grow, so the gap between third and fourth dropped, and by lap 14, the Gresini Honda was less than half a second behind Pedrosa's factory machine. For the following two laps, Melandri inched closer to the Spaniard and, having made an unsuccessful attempt to take third at the Corkscrew, Melandri made his move stick into turn ten to go into a podium place.
From that point onwards, the top three would be safe in their positions as Stoner gradually pulled away from Vermeulen, who in turn had a comfortable advantage over Melandri – meaning the focus turned to the battles further down the field.
Perhaps key amongst those battles was the fight for fourth, with Rossi keen to get as high as possible to minimise his points loss to Stoner heading into near month-long break before the Czech GP at Brno.
Having been unable to keep touch with the front-runners, Rossi was able to close on Pedrosa and made his move at the final turn to take fourth on lap 20, then pulling away from Pedrosa to secure the place with the Repsol rider settling for fifth.
The battle for sixth was also hotting up nicely, with a train of riders having queued up behind Edwards who was starting to slip down the order.
On lap 24, the American lost sixth place to de Puniet and by the time the field came round again, the 'Texas Tornado' liveried Honda had lost two more places, with Tamada and West having demoted the home rider to ninth place – West having earlier slipped past Nakano in the mid-field battle. Nakano had then lost further places, with Roger Lee Hayden and Alex Barros
having got ahead of him in the train.
By this point, Kurtis Roberts, Duhamel and Hayden had all joined Capirossi in retirement while Davies had lost time in the pits with a broken sprocket and was now running with Hopkins, two laps behind the rest of the field.
Over the closing laps, the fight for sixth would continue to be the main focus of interest, although the squabble between Tamada and West for seventh would prove to give de Puniet time to open up a slender lead over the group behind that would allow the Frenchman to secure a top six finish. West took seventh after getting ahead of Tamada on lap 29, while Barros would secure ninth after taking Hayden on the final lap. However a top ten finish for the younger member of the Hayden clan was still a good way to celebrate his MotoGP bow. The notable absentee from the top ten was Edwards, who had continued his trip the wrong way down the order and could only take eleventh place – both Hayden and Barros having passed the ailing Honda three laps from home on a disappointing day for the home riders.
Nakano finished in twelfth ahead of the second Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha of Sylvain Guintoli
with Carlos Checa in 14th being the final rider to finish on the lead lap.
Two laps further back, Hopkins took the final point in 15 while Davies secured a finish on his MotoGP debut – the young Briton setting some encouraging lap times late in the race comparable with riders with much more experience under their belts.
US Grand Prix:
6. de Puniet
10. Roger Lee Hayden
17. Nicky Hayden