Indianapolis MotoGP Reaction: Nicky Hayden back on podium
In stormy conditions, Hayden moved into the lead on the second lap when he moved by Andrea Dovizioso, who ironically will replace the American at Repsol Honda in 2009.
He then managed to produce a brilliant display to hold off series leader Valentino Rossi until lap 14, shortly before conditions dramatically worsened.
Hayden was powerless to retaliate as Rossi produced another masterclass, but Hayden was delighted after claiming his first podium of 2008.
It also saw him defeat team-mate Dani Pedrosa in the Spaniard’s first race for Bridgestone and the Kentucky rider said: “Man, it felt really good to be in the lead and I felt quite comfortable. It’s been a long time.
"I was thinking ‘this only happens in the movies’: your home race, missing the last two and coming back to win. I was able to stay focused but Valentino came past and he had a little more speed, especially in section three. Then when he touched the line onto the back straightaway I was able to make up a little more ground and I thought maybe I was okay.
"But when it started raining heavy I was in trouble because when it had dried I’d used up a lot of the left side of the tyre, so it got pretty gnarly with all the water.
“Sure, you dream about winning your home race, but honestly I shouldn’t be too greedy with how things have been. I’ll take this second and enjoy it. I’d just like to say a big thanks to my team, all my guys, my friends, my family, everyone who’s stuck with me through tough times.
"Also, thanks to Indy and everyone for making this race happen. It’s a great feeling to be able to race so close to home, I enjoyed it. “I gave the maximum today, I can’t say I left much on the table and that’s how it’s supposed to be. When they stopped the race it was pretty treacherous.
"It was the right thing to do. Conditions were really tough, especially with the winds because you’d be on a dry line and all of a sudden it’d blow you onto the wet. When they said we were going to do another eight laps, part of me thought ‘hey, let’s line back up and try again’.
"But I’m not leading the championship, so I’ve got nothing to worry about. A big thanks to the fans too, we only had to be out in the wet for an hour, they’ve been out there since Thursday.”