Racial conflict drama CRASH leads nominations for America's largest civil rights group's - the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) - annual Image Awards, garnering six nods in all.

The movie, starring Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton could pick up awards for best film, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress if it successfully fends off competition from nearest rival HUSTLE + FLOW.

The hip-hop drama, about a pimp's efforts to break into the music business, was the second-most nominated film, tipped for best film and getting four more accolades for its cast members, including Terrence Howard as best actor.

The nominations will boost the two films' Oscar chances by cementing the critical interest shown in recent weeks. Crash earned Critics Choice Awards on Monday night (09JAN06) for its screenplay and ensemble cast, while last week (ends06JAN06), director Paul Haggis picked up a prestigious Directors Guild of America nomination for his work on the film, as well as a Writers Guild of America nomination for the screenplay.

The film also garnered three nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and a nod for best picture from the Producers Guild of America.

Other films nominated for best picture by the NAACP were high school basketball saga Coach Carter, Will Smith's dating comedy HITCH and DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN.

The 37th annual Image Awards will be presented in Los Angeles on 25 February (06).