Michael Waltrip Has a Lot to Be Proud of

I'm not surprised that Michael Waltrip was eliminated on Monday's Dancing With the Stars. But I am surprised he lasted eight weeks. Despite rudimentary dancing skills, Waltrip managed to survive elimination after elimination, even sending home fan favorites like Betsey Johnson and Jonathan Bennett. Though Waltrip says he is sad to be leaving, he has a lot he should be proud of. Not only did he make it through eight weeks of intense competition, but he even got a little bit better towards the end.

I can't really say I'm a fan of the NASCAR driver. I think he lacked both skills on the floor and the charm that some of his fellow older competitors like Betsey Johnson and Tommy Chong had. But there's no denying he certainly was resilient. Waltrip was determined each week to come out and perform well, even after weeks of negative judges critiques. It's not really his fault he can't dance very well—he's a race car driver after all.

But throughout the competition he did improve. In fact, judge Len Goodman said that Waltrip and Emma Slater's Tarzan-inspired number Monday night was one of his best dances. Unfortunately it was also his last, but at least he made an impression on the competition, and on his partner.

A teary Emma Slater said that being the other half of Waltrip's pair made her a better person. "You meet these people and they have the biggest heart and you want to be like that," she gushed. "He's touched me in a way that I'll be a better person for the rest of my life."

The racer certainly can't complain about a comment like that. Michael Waltrip may be done dancing on TV, but he had a good run and made it further than anyone had expected. Now he should go home and get back in that NASCAR seat, because that's where he really knows how to shine.

Images: ABC; nascar