Hayden, who drove the just over 200 miles from his home in Owensboro, Kentucky, was looking at his third front row start of the year when he was knocked back a peg at the very end by Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, who ended up third. Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi qualified on pole in front of Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner.
“That was nearly the front row, but outside second row ain’t a bad spot,” Hayden, who had a number of spectacular slides in qualifying, said. “I feel this is the best race pace I’ve had in a while; a few times when I’ve qualified good this year it’s just been one lap with a qualifier.
“ I enjoyed today, even this morning in the damp. Yesterday in the heavy rain, man, I was hydroplaning everywhere; it wasn’t any fun. I had a lot more fun today, the bike was working a lot better, we made some geometry tweaks to make it feel better and I was able to be more consistent. The bike certainly felt pretty good and the Michelin tire felt pretty good.”
The advantage to being on row two will come if it rains. Hayden should be able to avoid the mist and spray that the rest of the field will find if, as predicted, showers cover the area for Sunday’s race.
“For the race it’s surely looking wet,” Hayden said. “It would be awesome to catch a break and get in a dry race, because I feel this is the best race package I’ve had in a while. If it’s dry we’ve got an idea on tires. If it’s wet, my set-up yesterday wasn’t working real good. If it’s heavy, heavy rain we need to do something different.
It would’ve been nice to be on the front row, we could certainly use a bit of a boost because my guys are working real hard and I’ve got a lot of support here: friends, family and fans. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, try to have a bit of fun, see how it goes.”
Hayden’s helmet was sporting a special paint scheme honoring the hometown Indianapolis Colts.
“When I was a kid I played Pop Warner football and I was a Colt, that was my team,” he said. “It was me, my little brother and one of my best friends. Colts have always been my favorite team. And the horseshoe, maybe I could do with a bit of good luck!””