California: Australia`s Casey Stoner roared past MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo on the 27th lap of 32 to win the US Grand Prix on Sunday and stretch his lead in the overall standings.
Honda rider Stoner, who started the race just behind Yamaha`s Lorenzo on the front grid, powered home to finish 5.634 seconds ahead of the Spaniard, who triumphed at Laguna Seca last year.
Stoner waved to the fans after crossing the finish line in dazzling sunshine, having extended his run of successive podiums this season to eight.
It was his fifth win of the year and increased his championship lead over Lorenzo to 20 points with eight races left.
Honda`s Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, champion here in 2009 and winner of last week`s German Grand Prix, took third place with American Ben Spies giving the home fans something to celebrate by finishing fourth.
Stoner, who won here in 2007, was delighted to taste victory again at the twisting, technically challenging Laguna Seca circuit after struggling with his bike set-up earlier in the week.
"It was amazing," the beaming 25-year-old told reporters. "I am very happy. I love this track, love this atmosphere in America and I`m very happy to win here again. “
"I just had an extreme pace before the start of the race and had a lot of confidence. All week, it`s been tough but in the warm-up we found something and thought we could run with these guys."
Stoner was quickest in the morning`s final practice session with a best lap of 1:21.747 in cool, overcast conditions.
"After that, I just had something inside knowing that I wasn`t worried about him (Lorenzo) getting away," said Stoner, who dropped back into third early on before overtaking Pedrosa on the infamous Corkscrew turn on lap 17 and finally Lorenzo.
"I knew I had full pace and we were just waiting for later in the race. As soon as Dani started to drop back, that dropped us both off the back of Jorge and I thought: `Right, now is the time to go and get up to Jorge.`
"I was behind Jorge and realised I could go a lot faster. I waited a few laps to see if he would make a mistake or do something and then decided to go and put the hammer down as much as I could. We managed to pull a nice gap."
Lorenzo, who began the race on pole for a third successive year at Laguna Seca, failed to capitalise on a fast start and said he was still feeling bruised after crashing in practice on Saturday morning.
"The pain in my back and my arms was not good at the end of the race," the 24-year-old Spaniard added. "Casey deserved the victory and, when he went past me, I threw in the towel."
Pedrosa, who broke his collarbone in a collision with Italian Marco Simoncelli at the French Grand Prix in May and only came back at this month`s Italian round, was delighted with his fifth podium of the season.
"I`m very happy," the Spaniard said. "I knew it would be physically very tough for me and it has been great to keep up with the pace of Casey and Jorge in these past two races.”
"Today, by the middle of the race, I was very tired and almost finished. I couldn`t get my left arm strong enough and at this track you don`t rest for a moment so I had to drop (back).”
"Now we have some holidays and it will be good for me to have some days off to rest and relax my muscles and be back training to arrive fully fit in Brno," Pedrosa added, referring to the next race on the circuit on Aug. 14 in Czech Republic.
Spaniard Alvaro Bautista, American Ben Bostrom, Britain`s Cal Crutchlow and Italy`s Marco Simoncelli all crashed out during Sunday`s US Grand Prix.
With eight rounds of the championship to go, Stoner leads the standings with 193 points. Lorenzo has 173 and Italy`s Andrea Dovizioso is third with 143 points.