DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 13) -- Action at the 73rd annual Daytona 200 kicked off Thursday, and GEICO Motorcycle Honda SuperBike rider Chris Ulrich couldn't be more excited to be running on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.

"We had a really positive day," Ulrich said. "Last year was definitely a big challenge for us, but this season has started off well, at least through the first day. I'm already faster than I was when I qualified here in 2013, and we have some more improvements to make for tomorrow, so the mood is very high at the moment.

"I'm really looking forward to having two solid races. I'm having a lot of fun and really enjoying myself."

Ulrich, of Lake Elsinore, Calif., was sixth-quickest in practice with a lap of 1:42.786 around the 3.5-mile, 12-turn course. He lowered that mark to 1:41.566 in the first qualifying session but slipped a few slots to ninth-quickest overall.