The moniker "King George" has arguably never been more fitting. George Strait, whose first single hit the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1981, leads the pack with eight nominations going into next month's Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Even though Strait, who is up for entertainer of the year and top male vocalist, among other awards, last took home an ACM in 1997-he grabbed three that year-don't bet against him in Sin City.

Meanwhile Brooks & Dunn earned seven nominations, including entertainer and album of the year, while the duo's Ronnie Dunn has an additional nom in the vocal event category for "I Don't Want To," on which he appeared with newcomer Ashley Monroe.

Rascal Flatts, owners of last year's top selling album in any genre with "Me and My Gang," has six nominations going into the awards, including entertainer of the year, best album and best single.

A two-time winner in 2006, Carrie Underwood has five nominations, including top female vocalist and album of the year, while duo Big & Rich got four.

Individually, B&R's John Rich also picked up a nomination for producing Gretchen Wilson's single "Politically Uncorrect," which features Merle Haggard and is nominated in the vocal event category.

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw are also in the entertainer of the year mix. Chesney, who has won it the last two years, had the second best grossing country tour in 2006. The No. 1 gross? His old pals McGraw and wife Faith Hill.

Using exclusive data from the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, Nielsen SoundScan and Billboard Boxscore, we take a look at a the top categories at the show, which takes place May 15 at the MGM Grand and will air on CBS.

Entertainer of the Year
Brooks & Dunn (two top 10 airplay singles; 703,000 copies of "Hillbilly Deluxe" were sold in 2006; $16,934,805 gross for 455,798 tickets sold at 57 shows) Winners of the most awards in ACM history with 21, the duo has won a record 13 top vocal duo awards from the ACM. They had No. 8 grossing country tour last year.

Kenny Chesney (three top five airplay singles, including two No. 1s; 868,000 copies of the album "The Road and The Radio" were sold in 2006; $65,975,442 gross for 1,131,231 tickets sold at 64 shows) Reigning entertainer of the year Chesney was the top country ticket seller in 2006 and spent a total of eight weeks atop the airplay chart. His previous release, the live album, "Live Those Songs Again," sold 405,000 copies last year.

Tim McGraw (three top ten airplay singles, including two top fives; 1.6 million copies of "Greatest Hits Vol. 2: Reflected" were sold last year; $88,808,729 gross for 1,095,653 tickets sold at 73 shows) With wife Faith Hill, McGraw scored the top grossing country tour of 2006. He also starred in the film "Flicka," which grossed $21 million at the box office.

Rascal Flatts (three top 10 airplay singles, including two No. 1s; 3.5 million copies of "Me and My Gang" were sold last year; $46,214,743 gross for 1,000,036 tickets sold at 79 shows) The band had the biggest selling first week any album in any genres in 2006 and their singles spent five weeks atop the airplay chart. Rascal Flatts had the No. 3 grossing country tour last year.

George Strait (two No. 1 airplay singles; 875,000 copies of "It Just Comes Natural" were sold in 2006; $17,132,602 gross for 291,751 tickets sold at 20 shows) "King George" spent three weeks atop the airplay chart and had the No. 7 grossing country tour of 2006. His previous album, "Somewhere Down in Texas," sold 214,000 units last year.

Top Male Vocalist
Kenny Chesney (see above)

Toby Keith (two top five airplay singles; 1.2 million copies of "White Trash With Money" were sold last year; $35,646,581 gross on 704,500 tickets sold at 61 shows) Keith, who also had the No. 4 grossing country tour, starred in the film "Broken Bridges" with Kelly Preston in 2006.

Brad Paisley (two No. 1 airplay singles; 944,000 copies of "Time Well Wasted" were sold last year; $27,742,368 gross on 698,820 tickets sold at 97 shows) Paisley, who had the No. 5 grossing country tour, spent four weeks at the top of the airplay charts in 2006.

George Strait (see above)

Keith Urban (one top five and one top 10 airplay single; 963,000 of "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing" were sold in 2006; $10,244,031 gross on 264,116 tickets sold at 32 shows) Keith, who did a limited number of dates last year as he recorded his new record, still managed to land the No. 9 top grossing tour of 2006. Over one million units of his 2004 release, "Be Here," were sold last year.

Top Female Vocalist
Sara Evans (one top 10 airplay single; 276,000 albums sold) Evans' appearance on the hit ABC television show "Dancing With The Stars" was cut short by her divorce filing.

Faith Hill (three top 10 singles, including two top fives; 525,000 albums sold; $88,808,729 gross for 1,095,653 tickets sold at 73 shows) With husband Tim McGraw, Hill had the top grossing country tour of 2006.

Miranda Lambert (one top 15 airplay single; 376,000 albums sold) Lambert's album sales came despite a significant radio hit in 2006.

Martina McMcBride (one top 50 single; 268,000 albums sold; $9,210,228 gross on 209,363 tickets sold at 40 shows) McBride was the only solo female to headline one of the top 10 grossing country tours in 2006.

Carrie Underwood (three top five singles, including two No. 1s; 3,016,00 albums sold) 2005 "American Idol" champ Underwood scored multiple week No. 1s with "Jesus Take The Wheel" and "Before He Cheats."

Album of the Year
Brooks & Dunn "Hillbilly Deluxe" (Arista Nashville) (two top 10 airplay singles, "Believe" and "Building Bridges"; 703,000 copies sold in 2006)

George Strait "It Just Comes Natural" (MCA Nashville) (two No. 1 airplay singles, "Give It Away" and "It Just Comes Natural"; 875,000 copies sold in 2006)

Rascal Flatts "Me and My Gang" (Lyric Street Records) (three top 10 airplay singles, including two No. 1s, "What Hurts The Most" and "My Wish"; 3.5 million albums sold in 2006)

Carrie Underwood "Some Hearts" (19 Recordings Limited/Arista Records) (three top five singles, including two No. 1s, "Jesus, Take The Wheel" and "Before He Cheats"; 3,016,00 albums sold in 2006)

Vince Gill "These Days" (MCA Nashville) (224,000 albums sold)

Single Record of the Year
Carrie Underwood "Before He Cheats" (19 Recordings Limited/Arista Records) Producer: Mark Bright

George Strait "Give It Away" (MCA Nashville) Producers: Tony Brown, George Strait (two week No. 1)

Heartland "I Loved Her First" (Lofton Creek Records) Producer: Walt Aldridge (No. 1)

Rascal Flatts "What Hurts the Most" (Lyric Street Records) Producers: Dann Huff, Rascal Flatts (four week No. 1; RIAA gold certification)
Josh Turner "Would You Go With Me" (MCA Nashville) Producer: Frank Rogers (two week No. 1)

Song of the Year
Amarillo Sky
Jason Aldean
Writers: John Rich, Big Kenny, Rodney Clawson, Bart Pursley
Publishers: Rich Texan Music (ASCAP), Bound For Sound Music (ASCAP) All rights
admin. By WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) Big Love Music (BMI) Admin. By Carol Vincent and
Associates. Grinnin' Girl Music (BMI) Bar Two Beat One Music (ASCAP)
(peaked at No. 4)

Before He Cheats
Carrie Underwood
Writers: Chris Tompkins, Josh Kear
Publishers: That Little House Music (ASCAP)/ Mighty Underdog Music/Sony/ATV Cross
Keys Publishing (ASCAP)
(five week No. 1; RIAA gold certification)

Give It Away
George Strait
Writers: Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon, Jamey Johnson
Publishers: Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Mr. Bubba Music, Inc., admin. by Sony/ATV
Music Publishing (BMI); Run Slow Music, admin. By ICG (ASCAP); EMI Blackwood Music
Inc. (BMI)
(two week No. 1)

If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)
Rodney Atkins
Writers:Sam and Annie Tate, Dave Berg
Publishers: Gravitron Music, Whaddayadef Music, Cal IV Songs, BergBrain Music
(four weeks at No. 1)

Would You Go With Me
Josh Turner
Writers: Shawn Camp, John Scott Sherrill
Publishers: Sony/ATV Songs LLC/All Mighty Dog Music/Travelin' Arkansawyer
Music, admin. By Sony/ATV Music Publishing; Sony/ATV Songs LLC/All Mighty Dog
Music/City Wolf Music, admin. By Sony/ATV Music Publishing (BMI)
(two week No. 1)

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