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Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Americans.

This is one of those weekends that I think we have taken for granted, where we take the holiday just because it’s one of the few days of the year we expect to take off.

But do we truly celebrate all the wonderful things that the day represents? 

Sure, we may fire off a few bottle rockets and run around with some sparklers after a barbeque, but when is the last time we have actually had a discussion on this day about our forefathers risking being tried for treason to become the United States of America? I know I’m guilty of it, which is why I’m making a note of it right now before writing about Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. 

One of the cool things about NASCAR is that they have aligned themselves perfectly with American holidays whether it is Memorial Day, Labor Day or the Fourth of July. Just like baseball, NASCAR is something that is truly American.

Others around the world don’t get it, but it’s something that is unique to us, and I like that. We may not have the culture of countries that have existed for centuries more than us, but we do have a few things that are our own, and stock car racing is definitely something we created and can be proud of.

Growing up, these holidays have always been intertwined with NASCAR. The races were always on television when we had our biggest family gatherings. It was as a youngster that I truly got taste of how proud I was to be an American. At the age of 3, my Grandfather who fought in the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ and also Korea, gave me a $2 bill and told me to look on the back and see my Great Great Grandfather Carter Braxton, who signed the Declaration of Independence.

I was so intrigued by my family position in history that I proceeded to read anything and everything about how our country was born, and soon found out that Carter Braxton gave entire life savings to purchase weapons for the rebellion. I never got anything less than an ‘A’ in all history courses and majored in it at UNLV.

But here I sit in my older years taking the past for granted. Is everything so great in my own little comfortable world in America that I’ve moved on from my astounding revelation about the blood, sweat and tears it took to make my country what it is?

On Friday night I will be with family in Ohio and will give a $2 bill to my five-year old nephew, Braxton Roberts – one day after his birthday, and give him the same speech about who he is, not just for the benefit of inspiring him like I was, but also as a refresher for me.

I get goose bumps just thinking about how great our country is and how fortunate I am to be a part of it. 

I suppose I choose to wave the flag in this NASCAR piece and haven’t left much space to talk about who will win Saturday night, so I’ll just cut to the chase and say that Denny Hamlin will beat Greg Biffle to the finish line by a hundredth of a second. Those would be some scary exacta odds, right?

Between the two restrictor-plate races this season at Daytona and Talladega, Hamlin has been the most dominant. He finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr in the Daytona 500 and then won at Talladega in early May for his only win of the season. It was the first plate win of his career and all the signs are there that he‘ll be fastest again on Saturday. 

As for Biffle, he won this race in 2003, but I really liked what I saw out of him at Talladega where he led the most laps before finishing second to Hamlin. Talladega and Daytona are far apart in similarities despite both using restrictor-plates, but fast is fast and we shouldn’t expect much to change from what we’ve already seen in two examples this season.

Happy Fourth of July to all and enjoy what used to be called the ‘Firecracker 400’.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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