-- NASCAR legend Michael Waltrip is the latest star to depart the ballroom after he was eliminated from “Dancing With the Stars” Monday on the show’s dynamic duos night.
“It was a wonderful experience and I’m so thankful that I got to be a part of it,” Watrip said today on “Good Morning America” alongside his professional dancing partner, Emma Slater.
“It turned into this emotional journey where you show up to practice every day and I wanted to make Emma proud of what she was teaching me,” he explained. “I wanted to feel the song and hear the song and have this connection with her. You get really invested. And when they said we were done last night, it kind of broke my heart.”
Slater shared his sentiments, adding that working with Waltrip had an impact on her.
“You don’t really plan for that,” she said. “You spend so much time in each other’s pockets that you really affect each other. And I was just so happy that I got to spend it with someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. It meant more to me than any kind of dancing or any number that we did. It was fab."
After the performances, Waltrip and comedian Tommy Chong were both in jeopardy of going home.
Waltrip, who has struggled throughout the entire competition, said being on the show made him a better person and he was sad to go.
Being on “Dancing With the Stars” was “a chance to do something that was more emotional than it was physical,” he said following the elimination.
For the first time in the show’s history, the couple with the highest score Monday night -- Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, who earned 40 points with their contemporary routine --- won immunity from elimination next week. In a bid to gain extra points, the other couples took part in a dance-off.
Six other stars return Nov. 10 to vie for a spot in the finals and their chance at the mirror ball trophy in the 19th season of the ABC show.
Lea Thompson: The actress and her pro partner portrayed the infamous outlaw couple, Bonnie and Clyde, but their jazz routine failed to wow the judges, who felt the routine was too safe. “You’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit … safe won’t get you the mirrorball,” head judge Len Goodman told Thompson. Julianne Hough said she was “a little underwhelmed” by the performance, adding that the choreography felt dated and saying she wanted to see more “feistiness” from the actress. Bruno Tonioli said the execution didn’t live up to the concept, adding that the routine should have had more of a “reckless, bada** attitude.” Carrie Ann Inaba liked that Thompson seemed confident, but said some of her movements felt “mime-ish.” Thompson earned four 8s for a total of 32 out of a possible 40 points.
Michael Waltrip: The NASCAR legend’s foxtrot – as Tarzan, with his pro partner as Jane – earned low scores from judges although they praised his overall improvement. “You definitely did a much better job this week. You messed up a little bit towards the end,” Hough told Waltrip. Tonioli said it was “cute” and “a good try,” but added that Waltrip’s steps weren’t long, smooth and gliding, as required of the style of dance. Inaba pointed out Waltrip’s improvement since his debut, but added that his skills weren’t up to those of the other stars at this stage of the competition. Goodman, who has been absent for a few weeks and hasn’t seen all of Waltrip’s performances, said: “For me, that’s the best I’ve seen you dance.” Waltrip earned three 6s and a 7 for a total of 25 points.
Janel Parrish: The “Pretty Little Liars” actress and her partner channeled star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, for a contemporary routine that earned them a standing ovation from the ballroom audience and rave reviews from all four judges. Hough called Parrish’s performance “breathtaking,” and Tonioli said the routine was “extremely ambitious, yet gorgeous and glorious in every possible way.” Inaba had praise for Parrish and told her pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, that the routine represented his “finest choreography.” To Parrish, Goodman said: “I knew you were a good dancer, but tonight, you’ve shown me that you’re a great dancer.” Parrish earned four 10s, for a perfect score of 40. Because she had the highest score of the night, she earned immunity for next week.
Tommy Chong: The comedian’s paso doble with his pro partner – with the pair playing Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash – earned him commendation for his commitment even as judges mentioned flaws in his performance. “You’re like a hot dog. You’re tasty but you’re never sure about the contents,” Goodman said, adding: “My affection knows no bounds because you come out ... you get out, you get on with it, there’s no complaining.” Inaba said Chong was a half-step behind his partner throughout the entire routine, but said the comedian had a connection with his pro partner, Peta Murgatroyd. Hough said Chong gives it his all every time. “That’s what I love so much about you from day one: you’ve come out here and you’ve charmed us … yes, the timing was off but there’s something about you that’s what this show is about,” she said. Chong earned two 6s and two 7s, for a total of 26 points.
Sadie Robertson: The “Ducky Dynasty” star and her pro partner, Mark Ballas, told the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with a creative contemporary routine that received high praise from judges. Hough said the 17-year-old Robertson showed maturity, and Tonioli agreed. “You’ve come such a long way, my darling … it was amazing,” he said. Inaba said Robertson’s routine had intensity tonight, calling it her “most poignant, passionate and powerful dance.” Inada did say that a small out of sync moment meant she had to deduct from the pair’s score. Goodman said the routine was well done, and, responding to an earlier claim Ballas had made that Goodman didn’t like creativity, the head judge told the pro dancer: “I love your creativity, I love your passion, I love your commitment to this show, and I only say what I see and try to be honest, but on that performance you won’t be banished from the Garden of Eden. You’re back next week. Well done!” Robertson earned two 10s and two 9s for a total of 38 points.
Alfonso Ribeiro: Judges were impressed with the actor’s Batman and Robin-inspired cha-cha with pro partner Witney Carson. Hough told the actor that he was “pure energy” every time he danced, but warned him that he needed to keep his legs straight. Inaba said there was something “so right” about watching Ribeiro and Carson play the dynamic duo, adding the routine was “super tight, super in sync, super staccato.” Goodman told the pair to get into their Batmobile because they were headed on to next week’s competition and Tonioli added: “Alfonso rocks!” Ribeiro earned two 10s and two 9s, for a total of 38 points.
Bethany Mota: The YouTube star and her pro partner, Derek Hough, played iconic TV couple Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, and their salsa delivered excitement, humor and speed. Inaba saw a mistake on Mota’s part, but called the performance “phenomenal.” Tonioli said Mota’s versatility exceeded his expectations, while Goodman said the routine was “fantastic.” Julianne Hough, the sister of Mota’s pro partner, said the routine was “so great,” and added that Mota’s development this season has been her favorite to watch of all the stars on the cast. Mota earned three 9s and a 10, for a total of 37 points.
Alfonso Ribeiro vs. Lea Thompson: The two couples battled each other in a jive. Ribeiro’s routine was judged the winner by all four judges, earning him an added 3 points, for a night’s total of 41 points.
Sadie Robertson vs. Bethany Mota: Judges were evenly split, with two judges finding in Robertson’s favor, and the other two finding for Mota. In the event of a tie, the head judge makes the decision, according to the show’s rules. Goodman had voted for Mota to win, so his decision was final. Mota earned an additional 3 points, for a night’s total of 40.
Tommy Chong vs. Michael Waltrip: The final two pairs danced a rumba, with judges unanimously choosing Chong as the winner. He earned an extra 3 points, for a night’s total of 29 points.
Tonight’s Scores (Individual Routine, dance-off. Total.)
Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 40
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: 38
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: 38; 3. Total: 41
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: 37; 3. Total: 40
Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev: 32
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd: 26; 3. Total: 29
Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater: 25