The old City Center Airport layout may have been more challenging for the drivers, but this current 2.2-mile version makes up for it with multiple opportunities to gain position on the track. There are three major passing zones and all of them come after decent straightaways -- Turn 1, a sharp, wide left that comes after the longest straight on the course; Turn 5, a left-hand hairpin corner; and finally, Turn 13, which features a surface change to keep the drivers on their toes. Fans who have tickets near these corners will get their money's worth today.
2. Can Helio capitalize?
Helio Castroneves is the only one of the top four drivers in the championship that isn't suffering a 10-spot grid penalty due to engine changes. Barring trouble, one would expect Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Scott Dixon to eventually make their way toward the front -- which means that Castroneves has to move up from his fifth starting position and stay there. A win in Edmonton would not only be a long time coming for him, but it would really put him into title talk amongst fans and media. As we all know, a series crown is the only hole missing in his illustrious resume.
3. RHR -- Four in a row?
Despite the 10-spot penalty he'll get today, these are still high times for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has won the last three races. The last time a driver has claimed four races in succession was in 2006, when Sebastien Bourdais opened that year's Champ Car World Series season with wins at Long Beach, Houston, Monterrey (Mex.) and Milwaukee. If RHR can replicate that feat with a win today in Edmonton, the title race could shift to a situation where it's essentially his to lose.
4. O Canada, part two
This weekend, it's sounded like Alex Tagliani has garnered the bigger share of attention in Edmonton over James Hinchcliffe, who was the clear fan favorite two weeks ago in his home of Toronto. Both Canadian drivers will look to be in contention at the end today, with Tagliani starting fourth and Hinchcliffe going from ninth. Tag would really like to get a stronger race result than he's gotten in recent events, while Hinch has slid to fifth in the standings and is looking to stop that with a podium finish.