Making History - Sponsorship Models


In a recent post by Indianapolis Star motor sports editor Curt Cavin he implied that while Roger Penske's IndyCar team had lost Phillip-Morris (Marlboro) sponsorship, he was still financially supported by Altria, the holding company of Phillip-Morris and other companies. Okay, I'll bite...why?
This is a question that I would think anybody involved with marketing and certainly any IndyCar team would be excited to know. Altria is not visible on the car and if it was, it would be interesting to know why company officers would find value in that kind of promotion.
Someone might want to believe that if money is flowing into Roger's team it is just a matter of the good old boys taking care of each other. That's too simplistic. In this environment justifying doing favors for your friends is a big challenge. Could it be that Altria is using the race team as a platform for another purpose? Are they creating an "immersion marketing espericence" for key accounts? Are they using it for sales incentive programs? Is it the centerpiece of an employee rewards program?
These questions could stimulate much needed creativity among the teams in selling their marketing platforms and securing the funding they neet to thrive. Is anyone asking the question?