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'The Bachelor's Emily Maynard: NASCAR group date gave me "closure"

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/28/2011 

The Bachelor bachelorette Emily Maynard has joined host Chris Harrison and ABC in requesting viewers withhold judgment about her inclusion on a NASCAR-themed group date which will be featured on Monday night's episode prior to actually viewing the broadcast.

Many viewers have expressed criticism that the show's producers had Maynard participate in the eight-on-one Las Vegas Motor Speedway group date after seeing it teased on this week's The Bachelor broadcast, as the 25-year-old children's hospital event planner from Charlotte, NC, lost her fiance and NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick in a tragic 2004 plane crash days before the bachelorette learned she was pregnant with his daughter. 

However, according to Maynard, viewers' concerns about the date -- which based on a preview clip ABC released Friday, seemed to end with everything working out -- may have been somewhat misplaced.

"I know there has been a lot of talk and concern recently over the upcoming episode of The Bachelor with the NASCAR-themed group date," Maynard told People in an interview released Friday.

"Although I appreciate everyone's concern, I ask that you reserve judgment until after you've seen the actual episode, because, as you'll see, the experience actually helped me gain some closure."

On Thursday, Chris Harrison told Reality TV World that the group date allowed Maynard to fully address the story of her difficult past with The Bachelor star Brad Womack, allowing them to put all the cards on the table and move forward.

"It forced Emily to face some demons that, even after five years, I don't think she's quite dealt with yet. It also forced Brad to learn the rest of the story, because again, when he goes on this date and knows Emily's fiance passed away, he still didn't know the whole story [about how and who he was]," Harrison explained.

"So it kind of forced a lot of issues on many, many different levels. It's unbelievably compelling and intriguing, and people again, I want you to watch it. There will be much more to talk about next Tuesday morning."

While she didn't confirm Harrison's account of the date, Maynard told People she had generally avoided discussing the accident prior to her appearance on The Bachelor.

"It's something that's really private to me and something I don't like to talk about a whole lot," she said. "I never wanted to be the sympathy vote on the show. I never wanted to get a rose because that happened to me."

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