With Dale Jr. retired, here are eight picks for a new most popular driver

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In the spirit of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s original car number (No. 8), here are eight drivers who could end up being the most popular driver for this year and beyond.

Only drivers currently in NASCAR's three national series were included. Note: Social media followers are rounded figures and represent totals as of Feb. 13.

1. Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports

Age: 22

Followers: Twitter -- 747,000, Instagram -- 211,000.

Why people like him: He's an Elliott. He drives a Hendrick car. And he's humble. He doesn't whine when he doesn't win.

2. Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford, Team Penske

Age: 24

Followers: Twitter -- 169,000, Instagram -- 92,400.

Why people like him: He's one of the fun Star Wars geeks. He likes to drink beer. He has a tat of his grandfather's sprint car as well as his number (10).

3. Darrell 'Bubba' Wallace Jr., No. 43 Chevy, Richard Petty Motorsports

Age: 24

Followers: Twitter -- 130,000, Instagram -- 68,000.

Why people like him: They feel like he deserves a shot. He can be funny on social media and doesn't appear to care how he sounds when he's playing the drums. He handles the fact that he's the only full-time African-American driver with class.

4. Christopher Bell, No. 20 Toyota (Xfinity Series), Joe Gibbs Racing

Age: 23

Followers: Twitter -- 32,500, Instagram -- 30,900.

Why people like him: He loves to race sprint cars, and if Tony Stewart believes enough of him to put him in one of his cars, that carries a lot of weight with the fan base. A Truck series championship last year doesn't hurt.

5. William Byron, No. 24 Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports

Age: 20

Followers: Twitter -- 39,400. Instagram -- 41,200.

Why people like him: Willy B wins. And wins. And wins. And the one time he really lost -- when his engine blew while leading a truck race at Phoenix, knocking him out of the playoffs -- he didn't run from the cameras.

6. Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing

Age: 21

Followers: Twitter -- 54,500, Instagram -- 34,800.

Why people like him: Fans like his story, how he beat Kyle Busch at the Snowball Derby, which led to him earning rides up the NASCAR ladder. He also could win a slew of races this year.

7. Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports

Age: 24

Followers: Twitter -- 62,500, Instagram -- 44,500.

Why people like him: He has the endorsement of Dale Jr. to drive the No. 88 car. People feel he has paid his dues driving for a couple of underfunded teams.

8. Ryan Truex, No. 11 Chevy (Xfinity Series), Kaulig Racing

Age: 25

Followers: Twitter -- 68,600, Instagram -- 28,000.

Why people like him: He has a dry sense of humor. He draws funny-looking, simple T-shirts. And, as with some of the others, Dale Jr. has a fondness for him.

Eight honorable mentions

Chase Briscoe, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie, Ty Majeski, Daniel Suarez