Craig Sjodin/ABC
June 15, 2012 06:00 PM

Race car driver Arie Luyendyk, 30, took the pole position on The Bachelorette early on, but his relationship with Emily Maynard hit a speed bump in the wake of Baggage-gate.

The current contestant spoke with reporters about regretting how he handled the Kalon situation, falling in love on TV and about upping his game Monday when it is down to eight men vying for the stunning single mom’s heart.

When did you hear about Kalon’s baggage comment?
I was not present for the conversation. I heard about it from Chris right before I saw Emily on the group date. Since I didn’t hear it from Kalon and I wasn’t there, I didn’t feel like it was my place to say anything.

Did he deserve to be sent home for it?
Emily did the right thing sending him home. I was very impressed by her inner mama bear and I let her do her thing. She handled it so well and said the perfect things to him. That was why I didn’t step in to help her out. She gave him the opportunity to apologize, which he didn’t. That surprised me and all the guys were disappointed in Kalon.

Do you regret not saying something considering she made it clear she was disappointed no one stood up for her?
I wanted to absorb every moment with her. I wanted to spend it talking about us, our future and whether we were compatible. I didn’t want to dwell on the drama in the house. That’s what I told her at the cocktail party and I stand by that because you have such a limited time. You want to concentrate on your relationship.

Did she overreact in terms of the other men not speaking up or getting in a fight?
A lot of us got called out for not standing up to Kalon’s comments, which was unfortunate but not irrational. She’s a single mother, very protective of Ricki and in a tough position. She doesn’t see what goes on when she’s not there, so she’s looking to the guys in the house to let her know if someone’s not there for her.

She made you sweat it out at the rose ceremony.
I still felt confident but she sent me a clear message by giving me the last rose. It was noted and I knew I needed to step up to the plate.

How has it been watching her intimate moments with other men on air?
I knew that she would have other relationships going on at the same time and I keep that in mind when watching. It doesn’t seem to bother me because I still feel that we have a connection that sets us apart from everybody.

Were you feeling confident at this point in the show?
It’s so hard to say because literally everyone comes home from a date and says, ‘It was the most amazing time,’ and talks about how close they are. One of the guys didn’t want to talk about it at all because feelings are involved. As far as how I stacked up against the others, I tried to let myself not entertain that idea because it would slow us down. I was so concentrated on working on [our] relationship.

You were obviously a frontrunner after the Dollywood date.
My first date was literally the best date of my life. It’s very rare that you connect with somebody in a very meaningful way right off the bat and that’s what we [did]. When we got picked up, we immediately were laughing. I could have driven around in that limo all day. It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing. Just being together, talking, laughing, and getting to know each other was far more special than flying in a plane and being at Dollywood.

Were you falling in love?
You will see a progression on this week’s episode. I had really strong feelings for her at this point and I break the rules this week to make sure she knows it. I’m proud I did it. I took a chance to express how I felt. I took a big risk.

Are you ready to take on marriage and fatherhood?
Going into the show, I was ready for that next step. I was in a relationship with a single mother where I took kids to school and it made me grow up and mature in ways I can’t really explain. When that relationship ended, I knew I wanted that. It’s a total fact that I want get married and have kids and the sooner the better.

Are there still guys left who aren’t?
Yes, at this point, there are still guys who are not ready to be a father and aren’t there for the right reasons.

Like Ryan?
Ryan’s true colors come out in the next episode and those questions will be answered. Ryan’s a very competitive person in his daily life and you’ll see that Ryan’s personality and being competitive can be a drawback. Because seeing if you’re compatible with somebody is not a competition.

Would you be interested in being the next Bachelor?
My fiancée might not approve of that. Just joking. I know that’s a hot topic right now, but if I am engaged to Emily, I don’t think it would be possible to be the next Bachelor.

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